FCC Wants to Add New 'Blue Alert' to the Nation's Emergency Alert System

Blue Alerts would be used by authorities to notify the public through television and radio of threats to law enforcement and to help apprehend dangerous suspects

FCC Wants to Add New 'Blue Alert' to the Nation's Emergency Alert System
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June 22, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed the addition of an alert option to the nation's Emergency Alert System (EAS) to help protect the nation's law enforcement officers.

Called a "Blue Alert," the option would be used by authorities in states across the country to notify the public through television and radio of threats to law enforcement and to help apprehend dangerous suspects.

According to the FCC, Blue Alerts would be used to warn the public when there is actionable information related to a law enforcement officer who is missing, seriously injured, or killed in the line of duty—or when there is an imminent credible threat to an officer. The agency says that a Blue Alert could quickly warn citizens if a violent suspect is in the area, as well as provide instructions on what to do if a suspect is spotted and how to stay safe.

The FCC's proposal would amend its EAS rules by creating a dedicated Blue Alert event code so that state and local agencies have the option to send these warnings to the public through broadcast, cable, satellite, and wireline video providers.

While some states have individual Blue Alert programs that use various methods to issue these warnings, the FCC says that its proposal is intended to support the development of a national framework that states can adopt.

The agency says that its goal with the Blue Alert proposal is consistent with the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015. The Act, which is being implemented by the Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), directs cooperation with the FCC. The COPS Office has expressed the need for a dedicated EAS code for Blue Alerts.

The FCC is encouraging the public to submit feedback on the Blue Alert proposal.