The Ontario Provincial Police say they will not apologize for issuing an Amber Alert in the middle of the night regarding two young boys missing with their grandfather.
Police issued the Amber Alert around 3 am Thursday after two boys – Harrison (2) and Keegan (4) Larocque – were reported missing with their grandfather, Leo Easton (70).
A second alert was issued at 3:44 am with further details.
The three had last been seen at about 3 pm Wednesday afternoon in a 2006 blue Pontiac Montana van at the Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket, Ontario.
Toronto Police later located the van at about 4:30 am driving on Lakeshore Boulevard with all three inside and well.
Police said the van was found as a “direct result” of the Amber Alert.
Thursday morning, the OPP issued a statement saying police “continue to receive complaints” regarding the Amber Alerts.
“The Ontario Amber Alert program continues to be an instrumental tool in assisting both the public and police with locating an abducted child who may be in danger,” said Staff Sgt Carolle Dionne, the OPP’s provincial media relations co-ordinator
“The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) would like to remind the public that calling 911 or any emergency service communication centre is not an appropriate venue to complain about Amber Alerts.
“The decision to utilize the Ontario Amber Alert is based on established criteria, and is not taken lightly.”
Dionne said that so far in 2019, there have been five Amber Alerts activated.
“As a direct result of these Alerts, four assisted in the safe return of the child/children and one with the apprehension of a suspect.
“The OPP recognizes the inconvenience the Alert may have caused, but will not apologize for using all of the tools available to help locate a child.”
Dionne said the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) mandated the broadcasting industry to distribute emergency alert messages, which includes Amber Alerts.
“As of April 2018, compatible wireless networks (wireless public alerting) were included in this mandate.
“The only option to not receive these alerts to a mobile device is to have your device turned off. However, if your device is turned off you will be unable to receive any emergency alert that may contain information of imminent danger in your area.”
For more information regarding Canada’s emergency alerting system, Dionne says Ontario residents may visit the Alert Ready website.