Updated Jan 7, 2014 - 7:33 am
Law enforcement group pushes for 'Blue Alert' in Arizona
PHOENIX -- Arizona law enforcement is pushing to implement the Blue Alert system to help quickly find anyone who shoots an officer.
An officer-based nonprofit would like to see Arizona legislators address the issue in the upcoming session.
Arizona Highway Patrol Association President Jimmy Chavez said a Blue Alert would have been issued last week when a Phoenix police officer and Maricopa County Sheriff's posse member were shot. Neighborhoods were locked down while police searched for the suspects.
Chavez said the alert system would also have been triggered in the recent assault of a Department of Public Safety officer. The suspect remains on the loose.
The Blue Alert would go into effect anytime an officer is killed, assaulted with deadly weapons, suffers serious bodily injuries and the suspect has fled.
"We could have had information out almost immediately," Chavez said. "The goal is to get as much info out on the suspect as we can even if that's just a vehicle description. The Blue Alert is a messaging system that would go out just like the Amber Alert for missing children on radio and TV stations, smartphones, freeway message boards."
Eighteen states have the Blue Alert, including California, Utah and Colorado, which not only alerts the public to dangerous suspects but would solicit the public's help in catching suspects. Chavez said line-of-duty deaths have decreased in the past year but assaults on officers are up nationwide.
"The biggest challenge to Arizona having a Blue Alert system could be funding, but we could piggyback it off the current Amber Alert system and that would show little if any impact on funding."
Jim Cross, Reporter