- Posted September 23, 2013 by
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Moving Forward with the National Blue Alert System
Back in May 2008, the state of Florida implemented an “Officer Down” alert system, and in August of that same year Texas implemented a “Blue Alert.” Similar to the “Amber Alert,” and following the same protocols, the programs in these states expedited information and asked for help in locating suspects who had either killed or gravely injured Law Enforcement Officers, and who were still on the run. Since then, 17 states have implemented the program, with Connecticut coming online October 1st. There have been two attempts to make this a national alert program.
Two years ago, the House of Representatives introduced a bill to make the Blue Alert System a national program. The bill, H.R. 365, was introduced in January of 2011 and passed in May 2012, but the Senate Bill, S. 657, never went to the floor for a vote. Tom Berry, founder of the National Blue Alert, is hopeful that this year the results will be different.
In May of 2013 the House of Representatives again passed a National Blue Alert Act to establish a national system, bill H.R. 180, by a vote of 406-2. The bill was sent to the Senate the next day, May 15th. The Senate Bill, Sponsored by Sen. Cardin of Maryland, was introduced in February 2013, and has 14 co-sponsors. The Bill status and summary can be seen here. Search for Blue Alert, then choose H.R. 180 (A direct link could not be provided due to the structure of the website which allows only temporary links to searched information). Tom received word that S. 357 is to be taken up in committee after the August recess. He is hopeful that this time it is put to a vote and passed.
Blue Alert has a Homeland Security Approved media protocol that allows emails, texts, and social media alerts to notify followers that an incident is occurring in near real time. An app for smartphones, both iPhone and Android, will be available by the time this article is released, and a QRF reader will permit users to download from the Blue Alerts website using that technology.
In each state that participates, only the Lead Law Enforcement Agency can call a Blue Alert, and the protocols are identical to that of the existing National Amber Alert System. Because the Blue Alert System is currently a state initiative, each state that participates has its own criteria for issuing a Blue Alert. Generally the criteria for the alert are as follows:
A law enforcement officer must have been killed or seriously injured by an offender.
The investigating law enforcement agency must determine that the offender poses a serious risk or threat to the public and other law enforcement personnel.
A detailed description of the offender’s vehicle, vehicle tag, or partial tag must be available for broadcast to the public.
The investigating law enforcement agency of jurisdiction must recommend activation of the Blue Alert to the State Operations Center (Governors’ Divisions of Emergency Management).
In South Carolina and Kentucky a Blue Alert may also be issued if a Law Enforcement Officer goes missing, subject to the other state criteria for issuing that notice. In states that do not participate, the local procedures are followed, but the Blue Alert Foundation will still help spread the notice through its available media outlets. California, which implemented a Blue Alert program in 2011, used the program extensively this year back in February during the Christopher Dorner manhunt. See the alert here. https://nixle.com/alert/4956376/
If the National Blue Alert Act bill fails to be passed this year, Tom Berry will continue his work state by state. His mission is simple. “The Blue Alert National Notification System will continue advocating for the passage of a Blue Alert law in each state.”
UPDATE: Here is a Tweet from Senator Leahy's Account.
Sen. Patrick Leahy @SenatorLeahy 19 Sep
Judiciary Committee Passes National Blue Alert Bill @SenatorCardin http://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/judiciary-committee-passes-leahy-backed-national-blue-alert-bill-to-help-find-criminals-who-injure-or-kill-law-enforcement-officers @BlueAlertUs @safecallnoworg #NavyYardShooting
And from Senator Cardin's Account:
Senator Ben Cardin @SenatorCardin 19 Sep
Great! @SenatorLeahy just moved my @BlueAlertUS Act out of Cmt. Looking 4ward to vote b4 full Senate.
This has been Great news for us at the Blue Alert Offices. Now we have to wait to see when the Bill, S.357 goes to the Senate Floor for a full vote. Then it is off the the President for his signature.
- My life