It's Time For the National Blue Alert

Now that we buried our two NYPD heroes, Detective Liu and Detective Ramos, what is being done to augment protections for our nation's blue warriors? Our nation's leaders will fail if they quietly allow the memory of Detective Liu and Detective Ramos' ultimate sacrifice to revert back to a "chaos as usual" atmosphere.  ‎We all know that sound bites provide us with zero ballistic protection, so what can get done? Re-enter the National Blue Alert. ‎

The idea of the National Blue Alert was born out of a recognition for a need to implement an Amber Alert styled program for ‎law enforcement officers. While NLETS has been our source of national information, there's an indisputable need to use social media to expedite alerts that impact Officer safety. The National Blue Alert would accelerate the dissemination of information nationwide when a law enforcement officer is attacked and injured, and/or fatally wounded.   

In the last session of Congress (113th Session), the National Blue Alert fell short of the finish-line because one senator (Coburn) placed a hold on the bill. The House version, H.R. 180, passed on May 14, 2013, and yet here we are without a National Blue Alert. As the 114th session of Congress is underway, and Senator Coburn is gone, it is now time for renewed leadership and the reintroduction of the National Blue Alert.

In its original version, the House bill called for a national alert when ‎"...a law enforcement officer is seriously injured or killed in the line of duty," and a known suspect has not been apprehended. Oversight falls on the Attorney General and the bill stated in Section 3, "The Attorney General shall establish a national Blue Alert communications network within the Department of Justice to issue Blue Alerts through the initiation, facilitation and promotion of Blue Alert plans, in coordination with States, units of local government, law enforcement agencies, and other appropriate entities." Additionally, the bill called for a "Blue Coordinator" that would, among other things, "...establish voluntary guidelines for States and units of local government to use in developing Blue Alert plans..." This all seems sensible and of critical importance to Officer safety, so what's the government's cost? 

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would cost the Department of Justice one million dollars annually to administer. Within the context of the overall federal government budget, it seems like a nominal expense for establishing a communications network to improve our ability to capture cop killers. In fact, since there are approximately 800,000 active law enforcement officers, we could all chip in a dollar each and fund most of this bill, in case Congress balks. Clearly, this important proposal is not cost prohibitive. Instead, in honor of all our fallen heroes, it should be viewed correctly as a moral imperative.

In terms of the bill's focus, I would recommend one important modification. The bill should also call for the triggering of a blue alert when a known suspect communicated an intent to harm police officers, and their threat coincides with a known act of violence. We can draw upon what happened preceding the assassination of Detectives Liu and Ramos to illustrate this point: alleged homicidal madman shoots girlfriend, contemporaneous with postings of his intent to kill police officers. This act of violence, in conjunction with the suspect's threats to law enforcement, should warrant the issuance of a Blue Alert. We don't need to wait until a violent suspect completes their homicidal objective, before we take action.  We are all aware of the controversy surrounding the communications between departments after this violent suspect shot his alleged girlfriend, but it all might have been moot if there was an option of initiating a Blue Alert.

In a sensible world where all forms of media recognized an attack or killing of law enforcement officers as a priority, we would be able to have the alert information disseminated timely. Unfortunately, as seen in January in New York City after hero NYPD Officers Dossi and ‎Pellerano were shot, the violent suspects were not immediately caught. As the police and the Marshals Service's Regional Fugitive Task Force pursued the suspects, the New York City news media pre-empted this story with their anxiety ridden concerns over the prospect of two terrifying inches of snow.  An attack on two courageous law enforcement officers should not take a back seat to the woes of a weatherman.  

With the brutal assassination of hero Detectives Liu and Ramos, and the current anti-cop sentiment exacerbated by the failed leadership of the New York City mayor and others, the need for the Blue Aler‎t couldn't be greater. As seen with the killer who assassinated Detectives Liu and Ramos, homicidal maniacs cross state lines to evade capture and wreck havoc.  To unify national efforts to capture these violent suspects, we need a National Blue Alert implemented now. The bill should be named after fallen hero Detectives Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, in symbolic honor of their ultimate sacrifice, as well as the sacrifice of all our injured and fallen heroes. ‎

We buried our fallen heroes, but our elected officials can't allow the National Blue Alert to be buried with them.