Wanted fugitives accused of killing or seriously injuring federal, state or local law enforcement will now find it harder to hide in Texas. Monday afternoon in Austin, Governor Rick Perry announced the new Blue Alert system.
Similar to Amber and Silver Alerts, once a Blue Alert is issued, the suspect's vehicle information will be broadcast on TxDOT highway signs and on local TV and radio stations. Local law enforcement is excited to see the system come on-line, and not just to catch the suspect, but also to keep you safe.
Authorities say someone who is willing to injure or kill an officer is extremely dangerous, and the faster they can get them off the streets, the better. "If they're willing to take the life or attempt to take the life of a police officer, they're obviously willing to take the life of anybody," Lubbock Police Captain Greg Stevens said.
Stevens says the new Blue Alert is a great tool. "That's going to help us get that person in custody or stopped a lot quicker," Stevens said.
"It will benefit law enforcement greatly," Lubbock County Sheriff's Captain Antonio Menchaca said. "In that type of situation, where someone's life has been taken or seriously injured, that individual poses a great threat," Menchaca continue.
Blue Alerts won't be taken lightly. To issue one, several criteria must be met. First, a law enforcement officer is killed or seriously injured by an offender. Then, the investigating agency determines if the offender poses a serious threat or risk to the public.
They must have a detailed description of the suspect's vehicle, license plate, or partial plate to broadcast, and the investigating agency must submit a Blue Alert request to the Governor's Division of Emergency Management. "Those who live in that dangerous place, thank you, and a heartfelt thank you from all the citizens of the state for the work you do," Texas Governor Rick Perry said.
Stevens says it's important to regulate all alert systems. "If you begin to put every little thing on the boards, eventually they will lose, I guess their shock factor. In other words, people quit looking up there, because there's always something up there," Stevens said.
Your eyes and ears, though, can make all the difference. "I think it's a great partnership," Menchaca said.
Texas won't be the first to use this system. Governor Perry says Florida uses a similar set-up. Seven law enforcement officers have been killed in Texas this year. The governor's office says last year, agencies lost 20 in the line of duty.
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