RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)–A missing Cary 5-year-old was found Thursday morning after an AMBER Alert was issued on Wednesday, according to police.

It took about three and a half hours between the time Cary Police sent out an email asking for help finding Amani Bruce until the Amber Alert went out. CBS 17 wanted to learn more about what the process is like for issuing an Amber Alert.

“So it is a process, it’s not something that’s taken lightly,” NC State Highway Patrol Sgt. Chris Knox said. “There’s a criteria that has to be met to ensure that it is truly an amber alert and meets those different stages of being an amber alert.”

In order for an alert to go out, law enforcement has to investigate, then call the NC Center for Missing Persons, the only agency who can authorize State Highway Patrol to send out an alert, according to the Department of Public Safety.

According to the NC Center for Missing Persons Amber Alert plan, there are detailed steps law enforcement has to take before requesting an Amber Alert, including getting permission from a supervisor, establishing a 24-hour attended phone, and filling out forms asking details about the child, the abductor, and the vehicle.

The NC Center for Missing Persons decides if the case meets Amber Alert requirements.

According to DPS, those requirements are the child is:

  • 17 years old or younger
  • believed to have been abducted,
  • not taken by a parent (unless the child is in danger)
  • not believed to be a runaway or voluntarily missing
  • and the abduction has been reported to and investigated by a law enforcement agency.

CBS 17 asked Sgt. Knox if it took an unusual amount of time for the alert to go out.

“From the time it occurred to the time it went in it was a normal time frame,” Knox said. “Our communications center was able to enter it in very quickly once they got it.”

A driver spotted the vehicle identified in the Amber Alert that they believed Crystal Beatrice Walston was driving. State Highway Patrol found Bruce with Walston in Benson around 6:20 am Thursday morning.

Walston was charged with one count of abduction of a child.