By a vote of 14 to 4, the Senate Judiciary Committee today passed U.S. Senator Ben Cardin's National Blue Alert Act, S. 657, which would create a nationwide alert system to apprehend violent criminals who have injured or killed police officers. The nationwide alert system would disseminate critical information about the suspect to law enforcement agencies, the public and the media. The measure now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
Senator Cardin introduced the bill in the 112th Congress in March and it is patterned after similar legislation that has been enacted in states. In June 2010, Maryland State Trooper Wesley Brown was murdered outside an Applebee's in Forestville, MD. At that time, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed an executive order creating the Maryland Blue Alert System. In 2008, Florida was the first state to implement a Blue Alert System and since then Oklahoma, Texas, Maryland, Delaware, Alabama, Florida, California, Georgia, Mississippi, and Virginia have all approved similar alerts.
"While states like Maryland have taken a lead in creating a "Blue Alert' system, we now need to take it to the next level and put in place a national alert system that will ensure the speedy apprehension of violent criminals who have injured or killed law enforcement officers," said Senator Cardin. "This bill is patterned after Amber Alerts, which we know works and has been used successfully to help apprehend child abductors."
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 48 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2009; over the past decade, an average of 53 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty each year.
Co-sponsors of the bill include U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Christopher Coons (D-DE). It has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Sherriff's Association, and the Sergeant's Benevolent Association.