Measure to Allow Rapid Dissemination of Information, Facilitate Investigation
Seeking to protect law enforcement officers in New Jersey, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo and Raj Mukherji to bring to justice those who attack them was passed 74-0 by the full Assembly on Monday.
The bill (A-2604) would establish a “Blue Alert System” to provide for the rapid dissemination of information facilitating the apprehension of persons suspected of killing or seriously injuring law enforcement officers. It also aims to aid the process of locating missing law enforcement officers.
“Law enforcement officers take on the dangerous task of protecting communities across New Jersey. When they’re attacked or go missing, every resident of this state with any relevant information has a duty to come forward,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “Blue Alerts can provide a means of making sure that those who harm men and women in uniform are found and penalized accordingly.”
“Police work is inherently dangerous. Given the safety risks faced by law enforcement officers, it is only right that we create a system that would allow for more efficient communication to help ensure that an individual who attacks an officer is caught swiftly and brought to justice,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “This not only ensures that justice is served for these officers, but helps protect the public by getting a dangerous individual off the streets as quickly as possible.”
A Blue Alert would be activated whenever all of the following criteria are met:
- A law enforcement officer has been seriously injured or killed, and a suspect has not been apprehended, or an officer is missing while on duty under circumstances warranting concern for his or her safety;
- There is sufficient descriptive information about the suspect or the circumstances surrounding an officer’s injury, death or disappearance to indicate that the activation of a Blue Alert may assist in locating a suspect or missing officer; and
- The law enforcement agency leading the investigation requests that a Blue Alert be initiated.
“While all of us hope that we’ll never have to use the Blue Alert System, our law enforcement agencies need to know that the infrastructure is there should they ever need it,” said DeAngelo. “This is just one way for our state to demonstrate its support for those who put their lives on the line every day.”
The alerts would specifically include a description of the missing officer or suspect, means for the public to contact local law enforcement agencies with relevant information, and any other information deemed appropriate.
Similar to the Amber and Silver Alert programs already in place in New Jersey, the Blue Alert System would enable media outlets to voluntarily disseminate information to the public about a missing officer or suspect within their service regions.
The bill, advanced through the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee, now goes to the Senate.