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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee and the representative from Houston, which lays claim to one of the most effective police departments in the nation, and a co-sponsor of the legislation, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 180, the ``National Blue Alert Act of 2013.'' I support this bill as a good and necessary measure. Everyday, more than 900,000 officers protect and serve the people of the United States. Every 57 hours, one of these men and women die in the line of duty. These officers deserve nothing less than a system that ensures an efficient method to support and protect them, and to bring justice to those who would harm them. It is for this reason that I support the legislation before us.
The National Blue Alert Act directs the Attorney General to establish a national communications network within the Department of Justice to disseminate information when an officer is seriously injured or killed in the line of duty, and assign a Department of Justice officer to act as the national coordinator of the Blue Alert Network. The Blue Alert system is modeled after the Amber Alert and the Silver Alert programs, which have been very successful in finding abducted children and missing seniors. Currently 18 states, including my home state of Texas, have local Blue Alert programs in operation.
The National Blue Alert Coordinator will provide assistance to states and local governments using Blue Alert plans; establish voluntary guidelines for states and local governments for developing these plans; develop protocols for efforts to apprehend suspects; work with states to ensure regional coordination of various elements of the network; and establish advisory groups, to assist states, local governments, law enforcement agencies and other entities in initiating, facilitating, and promoting Blue Alerts through the network.
The National Blue Alert Coordinator will determine what procedures and practices to use in notifying law enforcement and the public when a law enforcement officer is killed or seriously injured in the line of duty and which procedures and practices are the most cost effective to implement.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that this legislation enjoys the strong support of the Fraternal Order of Police, and the National Sheriffs Association. As I stated, 18 states currently have a Blue Alert program in place, and it is time to expand this excellent program nationwide.
This bill will enhance officer safety, which should always be one of our major concerns. Since the first recorded line-of-duty death in 1791, more than 19,000 men and women have died in the line of duty. It saddens me that 1,665 of the names on the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C. come from Texas. That is more than any other state. My city of Houston has lost 112 officers in the line of duty.
It should be clear to everyone that the regular dangers our officers face have only increased. The 40 deaths that have occurred in 2013 represent a 21% increase over the comparable period in 2012; and gun related deaths are up 7 percent.
Mr. Speaker, passage of H.R. 180, the Blue Alert Notice Act of 2013, will not prevent brave law enforcement officials from falling in the line of duty in the future, but it will help. If it saves the life of at least one policeman and enables him or her to return safely home to his loved ones, this legislation will have proven its value.
I urge all members of the House to join me in supporting H.R. 180, the National Blue Alert Notification Act.
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