ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona starts Blue Alert system to catch those who assault police

Aug 1, 2014, 5:00 AM | Updated: 5:00 am

PHOENIX — Arizona has had the Amber Alert system in place for several years and on Wednesday, the state began the Silver Alert for missing elderly.

Now, get used to the Blue Alert.

Arizona is now one of 20 states to have the system that is designed to quickly arrest anyone who hurts a police officer.

It works much like an Amber Alert. Once an officer is assaulted, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) alerts local media and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). The media broadcasts information about the attack and a description of the suspect, while ADOT posts information on freeway message boards, including a description of the suspect’s car and a license number.

State Rep. Justin Pierce sponsored the bill that brings the system to Arizona. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer held a “symbolic” signing of the bill on Thursday, but it actually was signed into law on July 24.

There were 2,000 attacks on law enforcement officers reported in Arizona last year. Pierce said that having the Blue Alert makes sense.

“If it’s my community where somebody has turned a deadly weapon [on] or killed a law enforcement officer, I’m going to want to know,” Pierce said. “I’m going to want my family to know.”

He said that when a suspect assaults an officer, everyone in the community is at risk.

“If somebody is willing to turn a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer or kill a law enforcement officer, they’re going to turn that on anybody. There’s nobody that’s free of that.

“Hopefully this system will save lives and will raise an awareness to hopefully be able to apprehend that person sooner and bring justice to the person who caused harm, and potentially death, to one of our law enforcement officers.”

Members of a group called “Concerns of Police Survivors,” or COPS, supports the Blue Alert system.

“We know what it’s like to have our loved ones killed in the line of duty, never to come home again,” said Jan Blaser-Upchurch, the group’s president.

She hoped that it will make suspects think twice about hurting a cop.

“Blue Alert is a means to apprehend criminals who seriously injure or kill police officers in the line of duty,” said Tom Berry, the Founder of the National Blue Alert System.

Berry said that the system is already working in other states, even after the suspects have crossed into another state.

“We had one in Florida, where three siblings shot at a police officer,” said Berry. “They then went to Georgia, robbed a bank, then stole a license plate in Texas and tried to change the identity of their car. They were caught in Colorado because somebody knew about the Blue Alert.”

Arizona was the 19th state to implement a Blue Alert system. Kansas followed a short time later and Berry said that Missouri, Maine and several other states are also considering it.

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Arizona starts Blue Alert system to catch those who assault police