By CHAD ABSHIRE
Representatives of the Kentucky State Police were on hand when Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed the “Blue Alert” into law.
The “Blue Alert” comes from a piece of legislation - Senate Bill 32 - from Sen. Ray S. Jones (D-Pikeville), and creates an emergency alert system to help catch persons suspected of injuring or killing a police officer.
According to a press release from the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, the “Blue Alert” is modeled after the Amber Alert, and would utilize law enforcement communication systems, electronic highway signs and media providers across the state to spread information after an officer is reported wounded or missing.
“The Kentucky Blue Alert will allow law enforcement to facilitate a speedy capture of violent criminals who kill, kidnap or seriously injure our local, state or federal officers,” Jones said. “They will be able to find and arrest these criminals much quicker to get them off the streets and out of our communities before they endanger other citizens. The Blue Alert will also hinder the offender’s ability to flee the state.”
More than 50,000 law enforcement officers are assaulted or killed while on duty each year, the release stated.
Under Jones’ legislation, the KSP would administer the program, working with local law enforcement agencies to determine when alerts are appropriate. The department would then signal a broadcast of the suspected offender’s physical description, identifying information, and last known location. Supporters of the system say it will speed the arrest of suspects in these cases.
The bill is named in honor of Kentucky State Police Trooper Jonathan K. Leonard who died Dec. 19, 2006 in a motor vehicle collision while in the line of duty.
“Our law enforcement officers face countless dangers every day,” Jones, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said. “As lawmakers, we need to put in place tools such as the Blue Alert to offer them added protection.
“When an officer has been harmed or worse, we owe it to our officers to alert their comrades to not only allow them to make an arrest more swiftly, but to also let them know of the pending danger.”