With the goal to ensure people who harm police officers are brought to justice, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo and Raj Mukherji to create a system to apprehend people suspected of killing or seriously injuring law enforcement officers was signed into law Monday by Governor Phil Murphy.
The “Blue Alert” system established under the law (formerly bill A-2604) provides for the rapid dissemination of information to facilitate the apprehension of suspects and to locate missing police 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 long overdue that New Jersey join the list of states with Blue Alert systems to allow for more efficient communication and speed the apprehension of violent criminals,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “In memory of our fallen heroes such as Detectives Melvin Vincent Santiago, Marc DiNardo, and Joseph Seals, this legislation will help ensure that justice is served for heroic officers and get dangerous criminals off our 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.”
Similar to the Amber and Silver Alert programs already in place in New Jersey, the Blue Alert System will enable media outlets to voluntarily inform the public of a missing law enforcement officer, or distribute information about people suspected of killing or injuring an officer. The media could also publicize any other circumstances surrounding the death, injury or disappearance of an officer within their service regions.
The law was previously approved in November by the Assembly, 74-0. The Senate passed the measure earlier this month, 40-0.