An emergency alert system that helps find missing children may now help police find suspects who kill or seriously wound officers.
Senator George Runner, who authored legislation establishing the Amber Alert statewide child abduction alert system seven years ago, is proposing a “Blue Alert” system be piggybacked on the Amber Alert system and activated “if a law enforcement officer has been killed, seriously wounded, or assaulted with a firearm” or if the suspect has fled the scene of the offense.
“The concept is that, just like the Amber Alerts, it’s important to get lots of eyes looking for this kind of perpetrator as soon as possible,” Runner said. “Often times they do know some information about these individuals, such as a partial license plate or a description and it’s important to use the existing systems we have to get people to help law enforcement to find these individuals who are clearly a threat to society.”
The system is fairly new and is in place in parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Florida, but Runner believes it will be easy to build on the success they’ve had with the Amber Alert program. The Amber Alert system is administered by the California Highway Patrol, in concert with the National Weather Service and Caltrans.
One of the selling points of the program is that there is little or no fiscal impact on the state, since the warning system would use existing networks and equipment.
“We’re already set up with radio and TV stations and the emergency broadcast networks and there’s very little cost to using the freeway signs,” Runner continued. “It’s a very economical way to bring to bear all sorts of resources to finding these individuals who are often fleeing the area.”
Runner’s “Blue Alert” bill has not been formally presented because all new legislation must wait until January for introduction.