During the 2017 General Session, Rep. Steve Handy sponsored H.B. 53, Missing and Exploited Children’s Day. It passed the Utah Legislature and was signed into law by the Governor. The purpose of the H.B. 53 is to call attention to missing and exploited children in Utah.
“I was very pleased to lead this effort and appreciate the support of my many colleagues and Governor Herbert,” said Rep. Handy. “The exploitation, abduction and abuse of children is intolerable and anything we can do to stop this evil is in the best interests of everyone.”
Utah’s first official Rachael Runyan Missing and Exploited Children’s Day was held at the Rachael Runyan Memorial Park in Sunset on Saturday, August 26.
“Anything and everything we can do to call attention to this effort and save the lives of innocent children is critical and we in the Utah Department of Public Safety applaud this effort,” said Gina McNeil, Utah Amber Alert and Utah Missing Person’s Coordinator.
Rachael Runyan was abducted from a playground in Sunset, Utah and subsequently murdered in 1982.
The notification system to alert the public when a child has been abducted in Utah started with Elaine Runyan, mother of Rachael, as well as others who played significant roles to create an alert system, was referred to as the Rachael Alert.
“During those awful days, there was little coordination and no way to alert the public. said Runyan. “Who knows if we would have found Rachael had there been an Amber Alert in 1982. We can only hope to prevent what our family experienced to ever happening again with the designation of this special day.”
In 2003, U.S. Congress passed a national alert system – AMBER Alert. Not wanting to have any confusion when working to save a child who has been abducted, the state changed the name of the notification system from the Rachael Alert to the AMBER Alert to coincide with national efforts.
Utah’s AMBERAlert is tested twice yearly –January 13 and August 26 – a date chosen specifically calling attention to the abduction date of Rachael.