Missing California Teen Found Safe After Officials Issue State’s First Ebony Alert: 'A Real Difference'

"This new emergency alert marks a significant step in dedicating resources towards a previously underserved community,” said the California Highway Patrol
January 11, 2024

By David Chiu


Published on January 9, 2024 05:39PM EST


California's Ebony Alert system, which went into effect on Jan. 1, has already led to the successful recovery of a missing teen.

“The CHP's first Ebony Alert safely located a missing teen in Los Angeles," officials announced in a Facebook post on Monday. "This new emergency alert, focused on missing Black youth and young women, marks a significant step in dedicating resources towards a previously underserved community.”

On Thursday, the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) requested an alert for a 17-year-old girl who was last seen on Dec. 30 in Los Angeles, according to the Daily Breeze.

“The California Highway Patrol (CHP) issues these types of alerts and in this instance, CHP did so at our request due to the incident meeting the State of California’s Ebony Alert criteria,"police told PEOPLE in a statement. "The missing person was found safe and unharmed in the city of Ontario and released to DCFS [Department of Children and Family Services].”  

Signed into law on October 8 by Gov. Gavin Newson, the Ebony Alert — a first of its kind in the country — seeks to address racial disparities over missing person cases in the U.S., especially regarding young persons of color. 

“I’m very relieved to know she is safe and unharmed. It’s clear the Ebony Alert will make a real difference," California State Sen. Steve Bradford, who wrote the legislation, said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE on Tuesday.

In an earlier statement, Bradford expressed his appreciation that law enforcement was already using the notification tool. “This alert can quickly get information out to the public through the utilization of highway signs, cell phone alerts and social media,” he said.

“Black children and young women go missing at disproportionately higher rates but do not receive the same level of attention as others who go missing. This is exactly the reason I authored this law,” Bradford continued. “This new law can reduce the anguish and pain that so many families experience when a loved one is missing. I’m proud that California has become the first state in the nation to prioritize the crisis of missing Black people through the passage of the Ebony Alert law.”

According to the Black and Missing Foundation, a Maryland-based nonprofit organization, almost 40% of missing people in the U.S. are persons of color. 

The same organization also said that of the 214,582 persons of color who were reported missing in 2022, 153,374 of them were under the age of 18. It noted that many missing minority children are initially classified as “runaways,” and thus do not receive an Amber Alert or media attention.

“This is all about reunification,” Bradford previously told PEOPLE, finding these individuals who are missing, who are abducted by no means of their own and bringing them home to their families safe,” he says, adding: “That's all we can hope for.”

In a statement shared with PEOPLE last year, the Black and Missing Foundation praised the legislation that established the alert. “California ranks in the top states where people of color are disappearing at an alarming rate,” the statement read. “Sadly, many of our cases are under the radar, like Arianna Fitts of San Francisco, who has been missing for seven years after her mom was found murdered. We must change this statistic.”