State to begin new Blue Alert system in police shootings

The state will now have a Blue Alert system, which will notify the public when a law enforcement officer has been killed, seriously injured or is missing, and a suspect who is considered an imminent threat is at large.

The Blue Alert will function the same way as the existing Amber and Silver Alert systems already do for missing children and senior citizens. The new will take effect Oct. 1.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed into Blue Alert system legislation into law today, May 29.

New communications approach

“As we saw just last month in Massachusetts, public notification played a significant role in assisting law enforcement in apprehending a suspect who harmed a police officer and a number of others,” Malloy said.

“This system will complement our existing Amber and Silver notifications and will put into practice a new, formal statewide communications system for this type of emergency," he said.

Currently, at least 15 states have Blue Alert laws, including California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

Public can help find the suspects

State Sen. Joan V. Hartley, a Waterbury Democrat who co-chairs the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee, said the new law adds a tool to protect the well-being of public safety personnel.

“After last month’s episode in Boston — in fact, for several days following the tragic Patriot’s Day bombing — we learned in real time how much help the public can provide in identifying and tracking suspected criminals,” Hartley said.

State Rep. Stephen Dargan, a West Haven Democrat who is the committee’s other co-chairman, agreed. “It enables the general public to help in the apprehension of someone who might cause arm to any of our police officers,” Dargan said.

State Rep. Henry Genga, an East Hartford Democrat, and an East Hartford police officer asked him to sponsor the legislation. “We are now utilizing new technologies that will improve public safety for all,” Genga said.

How it will be implemented

As required under the bill, the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection will develop and implement policies and procedures for operating and administering the system.

This will include procedures governing requests by law enforcement agencies to activate the system and guidelines to ensure that the dissemination of information does not compromise the investigation of the offense or disappearance, or violate the privacy of the law enforcement officer who is the subject of the alert or of the officer’s next-of-kin.