March 31, 2011

INTRODUCTION OF S. 657, NATIONAL BLUE ALERT ACT

Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I take this time to inform my colleagues of legislation I have introduced today to establish a national Blue Alert Act. This would establish a nationwide program for blue alert. It would be similar to what we do for AMBER alert today. With AMBER alert, when children are abducted, we use that communication system nationwide to get information out about the abductor so we can get the public assisting law enforcement in apprehending the individuals responsible for the abduction of a child. My legislation would establish a similar system of disseminating information when a police officer has been murdered or severely injured as a result of a violent attack. This bill would help in keeping law enforcement safer by removing these individuals who have committed these horrible crimes from the streets sooner and holding them accountable for their acts.

Every day 900,000 law enforcement officers go out in our communities to keep us safe. They are the frontline for public safety. They put their lives on the line. Our communities are much safer as a result of their actions, so we want to do everything we can to help our law enforcement officers. In recent years, too many have lost their lives in the line of duty. We need to do something about that.

In Prince George's County, MD, today I joined with law enforcement officers at the FOP Lodge 89 to talk about this legislation. There is a fallen heroes memorial located at that FOP lodge to honor law enforcement officers in Prince George's County who gave their lives in the line of duty. Unfortunately, there are 26 individuals honored at that memorial. They have lost their lives since 1937. The Superintendent of State Police was also there, and we recalled State trooper Wesley Brown who died in June of last year in Forestville at the age of 24 serving his community. I mention Trooper Brown specifically because as a result of Trooper Brown's death, Governor O'Malley took executive action to establish a blue alert system in the State. We now have nine other States that have joined Maryland--10 States altogether--in establishing their own blue alert programs so we can assist in the capture of those who murder or seriously injure law enforcement officers.

We need to use technology the best we can to help those who are serving our communities. My legislation would make that program nationwide. I am proud we have bipartisan cosponsors in Senators Graham, Leahy, Klobuchar, and Coons. It complements the work being done by Attorney General Holder in his Law Enforcement Officer Safety Initiative. The purpose here is to try to keep our law enforcement officers safer and keep the community safer. We think both will be achieved by using a blue alert system nationwide.

I am also pleased to say it has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Concern of Police Survivors, COPS. I urge all colleagues to join me in supporting this legislation. I hope we can get it enacted shortly. This can help in living up to our commitment to those who serve us.