McCrory Signs Law for Blue Alert System Officer Down Notification to be Statewide

RALEIGH

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.

 

On Monday, July 11, 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, 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 the following occurs;

 

  • A law enforcement officer is killed or suffers serious bodily injury. Under N.C.G.S. 14-32.4(a), serious bodily injury is defined as bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or that causes serious permanent disfigurement, coma, a permanent or protracted condition that causes extreme pain, or permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or that results in prolonged hospitalization.

 

  • A law enforcement agency with jurisdiction determines that the suspect poses a threat to the public and other law enforcement personnel and possesses information that may assist in locating the suspect, including information regarding the suspect's vehicle, complete or partial license plate information, and a detailed description of the suspect, or that a law enforcement officer is missing while on duty under circumstances warranting concern for the law enforcement officer's safety.

 

  • The head of a law enforcement agency with jurisdiction recommends the issuance of a blue alert to the Center.

 

For a Blue Alert, the following procedures would need to occur:

 

Step 1 – Requesting Law Enforcement Agency Must Investigate Case

 

To initiate a Blue Alert request, the respective law enforcement agency must determine if the criteria warrants a request for an alert.

 

Step 2 – Requesting Law Enforcement Calls NC Center for Missing Persons

 

After completing the investigation and determining the case meets the qualifying criteria, the requesting law enforcement agency will call the NC Center for Missing Persons (an agency within the Department of Public Safety) to request a Blue Alert. The law enforcement agency must have sufficient information such as description of assailant, vehicle information and/or other identifying information in order to issue an alert. The Center will review the case and either approve or deny the request. The Center is the ONLY agency that is authorized to issue a Blue Alert. If approved, requesting agency must submit a Blue Alert information form. The form can be located on the North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s website; http://www.ncdps.gov/document/blue-alert-form. The requesting agency will then submit the form to the Center for review and processing.

 

Step 3 - NC Missing Persons Center Issues Blue Alert

 

The NC Missing Persons Center contacts the State Highway Patrol’s Troop C Communication Center with instructions to issue an Emergency Alert System (EAS) message. The EAS message is technically “THE” Blue Alert. Through the EAS System, television and radio stations receive the tone signal that indicates an emergency message will follow. Descriptive information about the assailant will be announced in a pre-recorded message or displayed as a ‘crawl' message across the bottom of the television screen. In addition, NCDOT will activate the electronic message signs on the highways. The Blue Alert will be active for a period of 24-hours. Once this period has expired, the alert may be extended for an additional 24-hour period at the request of the agency involved.

 

The State Highway Patrol was considering the implementation of a Blue Alert System prior to the shooting deaths of law enforcement officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. 

 

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