WASHINGTON – Just days into National Police Week 2015, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) lauded action by the House of Representatives that will send his legislation, S. 665, The Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015, to the President for signature. Patterned after the highly effective Amber Alert system, once enacted, there finally will be a nationwide alert system to apprehend violent criminals who have injured, killed or made credible threats against law enforcement officers. The legislation has been strongly supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, the Sergeants Benevolent Association of the New York City Police Department and Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, among many others.
“This is a fitting tribute during National Police Week to the men and women who put their lives on the line each day to safeguard our communities. The vast majority of law enforcement work with professionalism and fidelity to the rule of law and are willing to lay down their lives for the safety and protection of our nation and its people,” said Senator Cardin. “The National Blue Alert Act is common sense public safety legislation. I am proud that Maryland has been a leader in the use of the Blue Alert System. It works. We now will have the national infrastructure to better support the speedy apprehension of violent criminals.
“This week, we honor those law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice while keeping the public safe. I appreciate their service and dedication every day, but this week I join in publicly thanking the brave officers who risk their lives on our behalf,” Cardin added.
The Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015 establishes a framework to issue nationwide Blue Alerts in the event of:
- an attack on a law enforcement officers leading to his / her death or serious injury
- a conclusion a law enforcement office is missing in the line of duty
- a confirmation by a law enforcement agency that an imminent and credible threat exists to kill or seriously injure one of its officers
The legislation would assign an existing DOJ officer to act as the national coordinator of the Blue Alert communications network. This coordinator will:
- Provide assistance to state and local governments that are using Blue Alert plans
- Establish voluntary guidelines for states and local governments to use in developing such plans
- Develop protocols for efforts to apprehend suspects, including the use of public safety communications and command center operations
- Work with states to ensure appropriate regional coordination of the network
- Establish an advisory group to assist all entities involved in the network with the facilitation, promotion, and implementation of Blue Alert plans
- Act as the nationwide point of contact for the development of the network and the regional coordination of Blue Alerts through the network
- Determine what procedures and practices are in use for notifying law enforcement and the public of Blue Alerts, and which of the procedures and practices are effective and do not require the expenditure of additional resources to implement
- Establish guidelines that provide mechanisms to ensure that Blue Alerts comply with all applicable privacy laws and regulations
- Direct the Coordinator to submit an annual report to Congress on the Coordinator’s activities and the effectiveness and status of the Blue Alert plans that are in effect or being developed
Florida was the first state, 2008 to enact such a system. The State of Maryland created their Blue Alert system in 2010 after the murder of Maryland State Trooper Wesley Brown. Blue Alert programs have been created in 22 states to date, with a growing number of states considering establishing Blue Alert programs. Locally, Maryland and Virginia have Blue Alert systems but neighboring Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the District of Columbia do not.