CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, May 14, 2013, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 180, the National Blue Alert Act of 2013,under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on January 4, 2013 by Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
H.R. 180 directs the Attorney General to establish a national Blue Alert communications network within the Department of Justice (DOJ) to disseminate information among federal, state and local governments, and law enforcement in the event a law enforcement officer is seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.
The bill directs the Attorney General to assign an existing DOJ officer to act as the national coordinator of the network. The coordinator will provide assistance to state governments that are using Blue Alert plans, establish guidelines to promote effectiveness and communication, including standards for issuing a Blue Alert and protocols for efforts to apprehend suspects. H.R. 180 directs the coordinator to establish an advisory group to assist governments and law enforcement agencies in initiating, facilitating and promoting their Blue Alert plans.
Further, H.R. 180 limits the ability of the coordinator to travel and host conferences solely for purposes related to his duties as coordinator.
According to the Committee on the Judiciary, every year hundreds of law enforcement officers are killed or seriously injured in the line of duty. Immediately after these events happen, information can mean the difference between life and death.
To help catch offenders more quickly and to help prevent incidents, many states and local governments have joined in a voluntary Blue Alert system, similar to the Amber Alert system for missing children and the Silver Alert system for seniors, both of which quickly disseminate important information among law enforcement agencies. H.R. 180 seeks to improve this system by establishing a national coordinator in the Department of Justice who will create voluntary national guidelines and encourage states that have not already done so to develop Blue Alert plans.
CBO estimates that H.R. 180 would cost “about $1 million annually from appropriated for DOJ to establish and administer a new program. Enacting the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.”