Proposed ‘Blue Alert’ law may help protect police

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Some state lawmakers are calling for a new alert system to help law enforcement in real time.

Called “Blue Alert,” it would work just like the Amber Alert system that helps find missing children. The goal of the police version is to speed up the capture of violent criminals who kill or seriously injure local, state or federal law enforcement officers.

“If anything happens with a law enforcement officer, we want immediate action to be taken, rapid response. We want to get it out to the general public as soon as possible,” said Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny), a sponsor of the bill.

Lawmakers say a Blue Alert would give officials the capability to push out warnings via smartphone, radio and TV broadcasts, as well as on PennDOT’s electronic highway message boards.

“We can alert the public right away and other law enforcement agencies that these suspects are on the loose [and] that they did harm to or killed a police officer in the line of duty,” said Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), a co-sponsor.

Just two months ago, Chris Hill, an 11-year veteran of the U.S. Marshals Service, was shot and killed while serving an arrest warrant in Harrisburg. Tracy Johnson was working in the Capitol that day and says there was a heavy police presence but no word on what was going on.

“It would be good to be informed, especially with that shooting near the Capitol Complex. It ended up on the other end of town. The Capitol Police do a great job around here, and it would be helpful to be informed if something was going on like that,” said Johnson.

The FCC has already approved Blue Alerts for the National Emergency Alert System, and 30 states now allow their local authorities to send them out.

“Are we putting too many alerts out? We don’t think so,” Rafferty said.

He says the alerts are worth it because they may help to save a “blue” life.

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