SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Within hours of the abduction, people across the state got word of the emergency. It seemed all eyes were on the lookout for the missing girls, the widespread awareness pushed by an AMBER Alert.
"We need the public's assistance. That's just that many more sets of eyes. That's that many more people that are talking to each other at work, talking to each other at home, see things as they pass around," said St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells.
Getting as many sets of eyes as possible trained on finding a child who's been taken.
It's the goal state Assemblyman William Magnarelli set his sights on, when he began the push to bring the AMBER Alert to New York State.
"I went to all the policing agencies here, and all of the radio stations and TV stations. Everybody was fantastic. And we put together our own AMBER Alert here. It was the second one in the entire nation. And then we started working on an AMBER Alert for all of New York State," said Magnarelli.
As police began the critical search for two young girls Wednesday night, authorities activated the now 12-year-old statewide system, alerting the public and creating an invisible army of citizens on the lookout.
"Now you see it on the thruway, on highways, you pick up your iPhone, your iPad and all of the sudden you're looking at AMBER Alert bulletins coming out. So it's exactly the way we wanted it to happen," said Magnarelli.
While many factors go in to the safe return of a kidnapped child, police say the AMBER Alerts are an important component to the effort.
"The people who run the AMBER Alert program have been awesome to work with. So yes, it was a useful tool," said Wells.
With now 52 alerts over the years in New York State, 100 percent of the children in those cases were returned home. Each one is a reminder of the good in the community.
"These two girls, it's just amazing. So if it helped, and I hope it did, it's worth it. It's worth everything. It's what we do," said Magnarelli.