At its June Open Meeting today (6/22), the FCC proposed to add an alert option to the nation’s Emergency Alert System 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.
“Blue Alerts” can 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.
As a result, such an alert could quickly warn 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.
The proposal, in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) adopted today, would amend the FCC’s 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 proposal is intended to support the development of a national framework that states can adopt.
This goal, the FCC says, 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 NPRM invites public comment on the proposal.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioners Clyburn and O’Rielly all approved the NPRM, and each issued separate statements.