ALBANY — Sen. Phil Boyle on Thursday proposed that a commission investigate why State Police chose not to issue an Amber Alert to motorists while Suffolk County police were looking for an armed Coram father and his toddler, who were later found dead in Virginia.
“We will create a blue-ribbon commission to make sure that the Amber Alert system is the most efficient and effective it can be to protect our children,” said Boyle (R-Bay Shore). He said he will submit a bill before the end of the legislative session on June 20 and, if it passes, create a commission that will have to report its findings within three months.
State Police spokesman William Duffy said the department was following information about the father, John Ligurgo III, provided by the Suffolk County Police Department and the NYPD on Wednesday. State Police said the information given to them didn’t meet the criteria for issuing an Amber Alert. The criteria includes: “Familial abductions qualify only if a child is endangered by the actions of the abducting family member.”
State Police and the Suffolk County Police Department said there was no information at the time that an Amber Alert was requested that showed the child, 2-year-old Jovani Ligurgo, was in danger.
“In this case,” Boyle said, “If you have a missing child and a condominium is on fire and the father has a firearm, if that doesn’t meet the criteria, I don’t know what does.”
State Police statistics show the vast majority of Amber Alerts involve abductors who are family members with a threat posed to the child. Of 81 Amber Alerts issued since the program began in 2003, 62 were considered abductions by family members.
So far this year, one of two Amber Alerts involved family abductors. In 2017, six of seven cases did, and in 2016 all five cases involved relative abductors, State Police said.
However, the majority of requests for Amber Alerts made by local police are rejected because they failed to fit the state’s criteria. In the past three years, of the 119 requests to use Amber Alerts, 106 requests were rejected and 13 resulted in Amber Alert activations.
Since the program began in 2003, Amber Alerts involved 98 children, 96 of whom were safely returned; two were found dead and one is still missing from a report last month in Wayne County, according to State Police.