FRANKFORT –Representatives of the Kentucky State Police were on hand Thursday as Gov. Steve Beshear signed the “Blue Alert” into law. Senator Ray S. Jones’ legislation, (Senate Bill 32) creates an emergency alert system to help catch persons suspected of injuring or killing a police officer.
Modeled after the Amber Alert, the Blue Alert System would utilize law enforcement communication systems, electronic highway signs and media providers across the state to spread information after an officer has been reported wounded or missing.
“The Kentucky Blue Alert will allow law enforcement to facilitate a speedy capture of violent criminals who kill, kidnap or seriously injure our local, state or federal officers,” said Senator Jones, D-Pikeville. “They will be able to find and arrest these criminals much quicker to get them off the streets and out of our communities before they endanger other citizens. The Blue Alert will also hinder the offender’s ability to flee the state.”
More than 50,000 law enforcement officers are assaulted or killed while on duty each year.
“Our law enforcement officers face countless dangers every day. As lawmakers, we need to put in place tools such as the Blue Alert to offer them added protection,” said Senator Jones, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “When an officer has been harmed or worse, we owe it to our officers to alert their comrades to not only allow them to make an arrest more swiftly, but to also let them know of the pending danger.”
Under Senator Jones’ legislation, the Department of the Kentucky State Police would administer the program, working with local law enforcement agencies to determine when alerts are appropriate. The department would then signal a broadcast of the suspected offender’s physical description, identifying information, and last known location. Supporters of the system say it will speed the arrest of suspects in these cases.
The bill is named in honor of Kentucky State Police Trooper Jonathan K. Leonard who died on December 19, 2006 in a motor vehicle collision while in the line of duty.
Senator Jones represents the 31st district that includes, Johnson, Martin and Pike counties.