One law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States every 61 hours, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. More than 20,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice since 1791. Last year, 123 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty.
A new state law will now allow the public to be notified through the Emergency Alert System when an officer has been seriously injured or killed and a search is underway for the suspect.
Last week, Governor Pat McCrory signed into law the Blue Alert Notification System. The Blue Alert System is a voluntary cooperative effort among North Carolina radio, television broadcasters, local and state law enforcement, and the Department of Transportation. Modeled after the AMBER and Silver Alert systems currently in place in North Carolina and the United States, the Blue Alert System will be included as part of the N.C. Center for Missing Persons which the State Highway Patrol oversees.
The Blue Alert will use local radio and TV stations, electronic highway signs and lottery terminals to notify citizens of the suspected assailant and facilitate a rapid apprehension by law enforcement.
A Blue Alert would cover the state with information identifying a detailed description of the suspect, the suspect’s vehicle, and license plate information or other pertinent information. In addition to the general public, law enforcement agencies statewide would be notified that a suspect is on the run after seriously injuring or killing another officer. This widespread notification would hinder a violator’s ability to flee the state and potentially facilitate a swift capture thereby eliminating the threat to the community and law enforcement personnel.
Under the law, a Blue Alert can only be activated if a law enforcement officer is killed or suffers serious bodily injury, a law enforcement agency determines a suspect poses a threat to public safety and other law enforcement personnel, or the head of a law enforcement agency requests a Blue Alert be issued.
The NC Highway Patrol had already considering the implementation of a Blue Alert System prior to the shooting deaths of law enforcement officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.