With Support for "Blue Alert" System Gaining Momentum, Brown Joins Youngstown Law Enforcement Leaders to Outline Bill that Would Create a National System to Track Down Criminals Who Injure or Kill Law Enforcement Officers Serving in the Line of Duty

Bill Would Create a National System Modeled on “Amber Alert”—Critical for Capturing Fugitives Who Attempt to Flee to Other States; Ohio Borders Five States

Brown Originally Announced Support for Blue Alert During National Police Week in May 2011

YOUNGSTOWN, OH—With support for a “Blue Alert” system in Ohio gaining momentum, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today joined Mahoning Valley law enforcement leaders to outline legislation that would create a national “Blue Alert” system aimed at apprehending criminals who injure or kill law enforcement officers serving in the line of duty. With Ohio bordering five other states, a national Blue Alert system would help track down even those criminals who attempt to flee to other states.

“Violence against our law enforcement officers is, unfortunately, an all-too-common occurrence. Every year across America, dozens of law enforcement officers are killed in the line of duty. Thousands more are injured or assaulted while on the job,” Brown said. “A national Blue Alert system would help track down those who assault law enforcement officers—even if they attempt to flee to a neighboring state. In a state like Ohio, that borders five other states, a national Blue Alert system could mean the difference between capturing an assailant and having him escape.

“The momentum for Blue Alert is building here in Ohio. I’m glad to see that so many others have joined the chorus of support for establishing a such a system, and in addition to working to create ‘Blue Alert’ in Ohio, we can also protect officers across the country by passing the National Blue Alert Act,” Brown added.

Mahoning County Sheriff Randall Wellington, Youngstown Police Chief Rod Foley, and Mahoning County Sergeant and President of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 141 T. J. Assion all joined Brown to outline their support for the National Blue Alert Act. According to the FBI, 56 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty in the United States in 2010. Law enforcement agencies also reported that 53,469 officers were assaulted while performing their duties in 2010. The generally accepted criteria for a Blue Alert requires a determination that the offender poses a serious risk or threat to the public and other law enforcement personnel, a Blue Alert system could help enable the speedier capture of violent fugitives.

Brown first announced his support for the National Blue Act of 2011 during Police Week in May 2011. Ohio’s Attorney General Mike DeWine recently announced support for establishing such a system in Ohio, and in December, the Ohio Senate passed legislation to establish such a system in Ohio. According to the FBI, 56 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty in the United States in 2010. Law enforcement agencies also reported that 53,469 officers were assaulted while performing their duties in 2010.

A national “Blue Alert” system would be modeled after the “Amber Alert” system currently used to notify the public about a missing child. The nationwide alert system would be used to disseminate critical information about the suspect to law enforcement agencies, the public and the media. At least 11 states— including Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Maryland, Delaware, Alabama, Florida, California, Georgia, Mississippi, and Virginia—currently have a statewide “Blue Alert” system. According to C.O.P.S., most statewide “Blue Alert” systems require four general criteria for an alert to be issued. These criteria are:

  • 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.

When a Blue Alert is activated, media broadcasts and Department of Transportation messaging signs would be utilized to distribute information identifying a detailed description of the offender, the offender’s vehicle, and license plate information. C.O.P.S. notes that such an alert could help hinder the assailants’ ability to flee the state and might also facilitate a speedy capture of the criminal, helping eliminate the threat they would pose on other communities and law enforcement personnel. The bill has been endorsed by several law enforcement organizations, including C.O.P.S., the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the National Sherriff’s Association, and the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association.

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