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CBI director welcomes Amber Alert input, says change is not needed

LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- The director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation faced pressure on Friday to make changes to Colorado's Amber Alert system.

The FOX31 Problem Solvers first questioned the CBI's decision-making process after the bureau did not initially send out an Amber Alert in the case of David Puckett.

The bureau’s director, Michael Rankin, spoke publicly for the first time Friday since issuing a delayed Amber Alert for David.

Rankin said he does not believe Colorado's Amber Alert procedures need change. He also said he's open to having a public discussion to see how the system could work best.

Some influential state lawmakers disagree with Rankin’s opinion that change is not needed. Those same elected officials said they look forward to working with the CBI on best practices.

The questions facing the CBI include whether the state trusts local police departments to determine credible danger in missing children cases or should the final buck stop with the CBI, and if police believe an Amber Alert would help find a missing child who hasn't been abducted -- but faces real danger -- should that child receive an Ambert Alert?

“On a 6-year-old on cold weather days like this, there’s just no question there should be some changes,” State Sen. Larry Crowder said.

Crowder said he wants the CBI to review its current criteria. The bureau cautions that Amber Alerts can be less effective if they become more common. But critics said if we truly trust the judgment of police officers, that will not happen.

“If there is a way that we can clarify or strengthen the statute that helps CBI, in cooperation with local law enforcement, I would be willing to find those solutions,” Rep. Jessie Danielson said.

The CBI said evidence of an abduction is almost always necessary for an Amber Alert. Various states operate the same way while other states have relaxed that criteria.

“We are looking to other states for best practices,” Rankin said.

Meanwhile, lawmakers said they will keep a close eye on the CBI.

“[We will] give them the opportunity to do this, and if not, I would not have a problem one legislating that,” Crowder said.

Rankin said he is open to discussing possibilities with police and lawmakers, but a specific forum has not yet been scheduled.

“I don’t have a particular idea how we would bring that forum together,” Rankin said. “Maybe that’s something we should talk internally more about, but we’re happy to do that and happy to participate in that.”

State Reps. Justin Everett and Lois Landgraf raised concerns over Colorado's Amber Alert system procedures and criteria on Tuesday.

Late Friday, the CBI released state Amber Alert statistics. Since the program started in 2002, 79 Amber Alerts have been issued. The CBI said 61 of those cases had evidence of an abduction and 18 had a "reasonable possibility" of abduction.