Police in Ontario, Canada responded to complaints they received after sending out cellphone notifications for an Amber Alert on Thursday night for an 11-year-old girl who was later found dead.
Peel Regional Police sent out the alert at 11:36 p.m. Thursday, hours after launching an investigation into a possible parental abduction of 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar, Global News reported.
The girl was out with her father for her birthday, but was not returned to her mother at the scheduled time. Her mother reportedly contacted police at 7 p.m. saying the man would harm himself and the girl.
She was later found dead at her father’s home in Brampton, police said.
Her father, 41-year-old Roopesh Rajkumar, was arrested north of Toronto, which Peel Regional Police attributed to “a direct result of a citizen receiving the alert and calling 9-1-1.”
The late hour of the Amber Alert notification apparently spawned a backlash from citizens, who reportedly made calls and emails to the station, as well as lashed out on social media.
Those complaints did not sit well with officers, who responded on Twitter the next day.
“I can’t even begin to describe how disappointing and upsetting it is to read the comments, emails and calls to our communications bureau complaining about receiving an Amber Alert late at night. I appreciate that a lot of people were sleeping but the immediate need to locate the child outweighed the momentary inconvenience that some people encountered.” Peel police media relations officer Const. Akhil Mooken said in a tweet.
“Tragically this incident did not have the outcome we were all hoping for but the suspect was located as a direct result of a citizen receiving the alert and calling 9-1-1. The system works.”
Bonnie Crombie, mayor of Mississauga — about 20 minutes from Brampton — weighed in, calling on the public to show compassion.
“The quick apprehension of the suspect is case in point that the Amber Alert works. As a society, we have the duty to come together and do everything we can to help locate a missing child. Have some compassion. Show some respect. What if this was your child?” Crombie said.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) last year implemented a new rule that Canadians can not opt out of National Public Alerting System, which includes Amber Alerts, CBC News reported.
“People cannot opt out of this,” CRTC spokesperson Patricia Valladao said last year. “There is a high importance that people — want it or not — receive these alerts.”