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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
An individual pursuing a career in law enforcement fully understands the many dangers of the job but commits to serving others despite the risk of being injured in the line of duty or even making the ultimate sacrifice. Sadly, in 2018, 251 officers were shot while on duty in 204 separate incidents, including 32 incidents where multiple officers were shot. Of those shot, 51 officers succumbed to their injuries. Equally concerning is that these numbers represent a 24 percent increase in the number of law enforcement officers shot and killed during 2018 compared to 2017.
These tragic numbers are indicative of why the COPS Office and stakeholders throughout the country are working together to ensure that criminals who attack, injure, or kill officers are identified and apprehended as swiftly as possible.
In 2015, Congress passed the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act, named in honor of two New York City police officers killed in an ambush attack on December 20, 2014. This law establishes a voluntary nationwide system to give police an early warning of threats against police officers and to aid in the apprehension of suspects who have killed or seriously injured an officer.
In 2016, the COPS Office was asked to implement the Blue Alert Act and establish a National Blue Alert Network. At that time, only 26 states had Blue Alert Networks, and by working collaboratively with state-level law enforcement stakeholders and national stakeholder groups, the COPS Office has helped an additional 9 states implement new Blue Alert plans. The COPS Office remains focused on this need, and is in the middle of a battle plan to expand Blue Alert to all 50 states.
Blue Alert provides for rapid dissemination of information to law enforcement agencies, media, and the public about violent offenders who have killed or seriously injured or who pose an imminent and credible threat to law enforcement. Blue Alerts can be transmitted via wireless devices and through the Emergency Alert System (EAS).
The COPS Office provides resources and technical assistance to states, law enforcement agencies, and other stakeholders seeking to establish or enhance an existing Blue Alert plan. The National Blue Alert Network also maintains a secure data repository—for law enforcement only—containing many Blue Alert resources collected from around the nation including examples of legislation, policies, forms, and a directory of state Blue Alert officials.
To learn more about the COPS Office’s Blue Alert resources or how you can support establishing a Network in your state, visit the COPS Office’s Blue Alert resource center.
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