Washington, D.C. – During a ceremony at the White House today, President Barack Obama signed the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015 into law, legislation introduced by the chairmen of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus, U.S. Congressmen Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and Dave Reichert (R-WA).
The bill establishes national guidelines to help states implement Blue Alert systems across the country to apprehend criminals who have injured, killed, or made imminent and credible threats against police officers. Rep. Pascrell joined the families of NYPD Officers Ramos and Liu during the bill signing in the Oval Office.
“Today marks a significant investment in the safety of the brave men and women that protect our communities, and I applaud President Obama for taking such swift action,” stated Rep. Pascrell. “The tragic murder of NYPD officers Ramos and Liu reminds us of the grave risk our law enforcement officers face day in and day out. I was proud to work with Congressman Reichert in ensuring this critical legislation was signed into law so we can provide our law enforcement officers the protection they need and deserve.”
The legislation passed the House of Representatives unanimously last week as the nation recognized National Police Week. Rep. Pascrell’s floor remarks can be found here.
Blue Alerts are based on the successful Amber Alerts and can be issued in the event of:
- an attack on a law enforcement officers leading to his / her death or serious injury;
- a conclusion a law enforcement office is missing in the line of duty; or
- a confirmation by a law enforcement agency that an imminent and credible threat exists to kill or seriously injure one of its officers.
The legislation would also assign an existing DOJ officer to act as the national coordinator of the Blue Alert communications network. This Coordinator would, among other things:
- Provide assistance to State and local governments that are using Blue Alert plans.
- Establish voluntary guidelines for states and local governments to use in developing such plans.
- Develop protocols for efforts to apprehend suspects, including the use of public safety communications and command center operations.
- Work with states to ensure appropriate regional coordination of the network.
- Establish an advisory group to assist all entities involved in the network with the facilitation, promotion, and implementation of Blue Alert plans.
- Act as the nationwide point of contact for the development of the network and the regional coordination of Blue Alerts through the network.
- Determine what procedures and practices are in use for notifying law enforcement and the public of Blue Alerts, and which of the procedures and practices are effective and do not require the expenditure of additional resources to implement.
- Establish guidelines that provide mechanisms to ensure that Blue Alerts comply with all applicable privacy laws and regulations.
- Direct the Coordinator to submit an annual report to Congress on the Coordinator's activities and the effectiveness and status of the Blue Alert plans that are in effect or being developed.