NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation addressed the media Tuesday afternoon to discuss its handling of an AMBER Alert for a Florida girl who was found in Memphis Monday afternoon.
Rebecca Lewis was taken from her home by a family friend Saturday morning. The 4-year-old was found safe with West Wild Hogs in Memphis.
During the news conference, TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said the agency stands behind its decision in how the alert was issued and that they have a protocol to follow.
DeVine said there is a list of questions the agency must get answered before issuing an AMBER Alert, including having a verified sighting of the child in the state or credible information a suspect is planning on bringing a child to the state.
He added that officials from Polk County, Florida, did not give the TBI critical information that would have led to the state issuing an alert sooner.
“We asked is there any reason to believe this child is in Tennessee. Their agency said no. We asked if the individual she’s with is a danger, does he have any criminal history. Again, the agency said no. Based on the totality of the facts at that point, we indicated that no, we were not able to issue an AMBER Alert,” DeVine said.
At that time, a Be-On-The-Lookout was issued for all law enforcement.
“We don’t want to cause undue panic,” DeVine said. “It requires common sense; it requires asking questions; it requires determining does an AMBER Alert contribute to the possible recovery of a child.”
According to the spokesman, the agency acted properly and they would not have done anything differently.
He added, “No one wants missing children home more than the TBI.”
However, Sheriff Grady Judd of Florida disagrees with how the TBI handled issuing the AMBER Alert. He spoke about it during a separate press conference Tuesday afternoon.
“The state of Tennessee chose not to do an AMBER Alert when we asked them to because they said there was no evidence at the time that Rebecca and Hogs were in Tennessee. Well, newsflash Tennessee, he was there,” he said.
Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York were also asked to issue an AMBER Alert for Rebecca and denied the request based on information relayed at the time.
Rebecca returned home to her family on Tuesday afternoon. Watch raw video of the reunion here.
Hog remains in custody and is awaiting extradition.