FCC proposes a national ‘Blue Alert’ system to warn public of threats to law enforcement

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The FCC today proposed to add the “Blue Alert” to the US Emergency Alert System which will notify the public of nearby suspects or threats to their communities’ law enforcement officials. The Blue Alert was introduced in 2015 after two New York City police officers were ambushed and killed while on duty.

The proposal seeks to make the Blue Alert, currently active in 27 states, a consistent, nationwide system that each state and local agency can adopt. The alerts can be sent through a television broadcast (cable or satellite), radio stations, and wireline video outlets. The format is modeled after the Amber Alert for missing children; Blue Alerts can warn the public if a violent suspect is nearby, the type of vehicle (if any) they’re last seen in, and what civilians should do if they spot the suspect. The alerts can only be made when a law enforcement officer in the line of duty has been killed, seriously injured, or is missing — though threats of serious injury that seem “credible” will also be accepted.

“This network provides the means of quickly identifying, pursuing and capturing violent offenders who have hurt, killed or pose an imminent danger to law enforcement,” US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in May when the Justice Department launched the National Blue Alert Network that would support the system if the proposal is approved.

The FCC is currently accepting public comments on the Blue Alert proposal for three months.

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