Highlighting the importance of supporting first responders during National Police Week, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) today applauded House passage of the National Blue Alert Act, a bill that both legislators have co-sponsored this session.
"We should give our law enforcement officers every tool possible to protect themselves and bring criminals to justice. The Blue Alert system would keep communities safer by helping police quickly locate and apprehend criminals who attack fellow officers, and I hope the Senate will move swiftly to approve it," said Whitehouse.
"At great personal sacrifice, Rhode Island's first responders provide critical services for men and women across our state, and they deserve our full support," said Cicilline. "I am pleased that the House passed the National Blue Alert Act to make it easier to apprehend individuals suspected of crimes against law enforcement officers, and I hope that the Senate will consider this legislation soon."
The National Blue Alert Act would establish a "Blue Alert" system to disseminate information following the serious injury, attack upon, or death of a law enforcement official in the line of duty. Similar to the Amber Alert system used to locate missing children, the Blue Alert system would be the first national alert system to inform law enforcement, media, and the general public about officers injured or killed, and distribute information regarding potential suspects. Many states, including Rhode Island, have already established blue alert systems at the state level to better inform residents about developments following the death or serious injury of a police officer.
The national Blue Alert Program would be housed in the U.S. Department of Justice, with a national coordinator responsible for recruiting states and territories to participate. The program would not add to the deficit, as it utilizes $10 million that have already been budgeted for the COPS Program.
In 1962, the week in which Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15th) falls was designated as National Police Week by President John F. Kennedy. During this week, law enforcement officials from across the country visit Washington, D.C. to honor those who have been lost in the line of duty.