The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced the addition of a new alert program, Blue Alert, to the nation's emergency alerting systems. The new service is intended to notify the public of threats to law enforcement in real time. With the creation of a dedicated Blue Alert event code in the Emergency Alert System, state and local law enforcement will have the capability to push immediate warnings out to the public via broadcast, cable, and satellite providers, as well as to consumer smartphones through the Wireless Emergency Alert system.
Much like both the SILVER and AMBER alert programs, and utilizing the same notification system, Blue Alerts aim to warn the general public of threats to public safety and/or imminent danger. However, the police force focused alert system provides timely information to the public when police officers may be in danger. Chairman of the FCC and recent deregulator of the internet, Ajit Pai detailed the new FCC order saying,
"Similar to the Amber Alerts that many are familiar with, Blue Alerts will enable authorities 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 December 14 order from the FCC activates the Blue Alerts service for one calendar year to deliver the notifications over the Emergency Alert System, and for 18 months over the Wireless Emergency Alert system. Spearheaded by Blue Alert Foundation, a non-profit group founded in 2008 that is committed to speed the apprehension of violent criminals who kill or seriously injure law enforcement officers, the new FCC order represents the continued advancement of Blue Alert system, now active in 28 states nationwide.
FCC ADDS BLUE ALERTS TO THE NATION’S EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEMS
Blue Alerts Can Protect Law Enforcement Officers and Communities
WASHINGTON, December 14, 2017—The Federal Communications Commission today
added a new alert option—called a “Blue Alert”—to the nation’s emergency alerting systems.
Blue Alerts can be used by state and local authorities to notify the public of threats to law
enforcement and to help apprehend dangerous suspects.
Blue Alerts 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. A Blue Alert could quickly warn you if a violent
suspect may be in your community, along with providing instructions on what to do if you spot
the suspect and how to stay safe.
In an Order adopted today, the FCC created a dedicated Blue Alert event code in the
Emergency Alert System so that state and local agencies have the option to send these
warnings to the public through broadcast, cable, satellite, and wireline video providers.
Officials may also send Blue Alerts through the Wireless Emergency Alert system to
consumers’ wireless phones.
Today’s action supports the development of compatible and integrated Blue Alert plans
throughout the United States, a goal consistent with the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu
National Blue Alert Act of 2015. The Act, which is implemented by the Department of
Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), directs cooperation
with the FCC.
Today’s Order provides a 12-month implementation period for Blue Alerts to be delivered over
the Emergency Alert System and 18 months for delivery over the Wireless Emergency Alert
Action by the Commission December 14, 2017 by Report and Order (FCC 17-170). Chairman
Pai, Commissioners Clyburn, O’Rielly, and Carr approving. Commissioner Rosenworcel
approving in part and dissenting in part. Chairman Pai, Commissioners Clyburn, O’Rielly,
Carr and Rosenworcel issuing separate statements.
PS Docket No. 15-94