Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signed legislation Thursday creating a statewide alert system to notify the public when a law enforcement officer is killed or injured.
The Blue Alert System will be similar to Amber and Silver alerts. Its purpose is to encourage the public to help identify and locate an at-large attacker who wounded or killed an officer.
Greitens signed the legislation in St. Louis.
The alerts could be distributed through text messages, radio and TV broadcasts, email, and highway message signs. It will be up to the Missouri Department of Public Safety to develop and implement the system.
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Local law enforcement agencies, radio broadcasters and TV stations can choose whether to participate.
Greitens has been outspoken in his support of Blue Alert. In his January State of the State address, he said the system would “bring swift justice to anyone who assaults a law enforcement officer.”
Twenty-seven other states, including Kansas, already have the alerts, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Liberty Police Department Capt. Andy Hedrick said the department has not decided whether to opt into the system. He added that “the intentions of it are excellent.”
“Any system that makes it easier to apprehend people who kill or injure law enforcement officers is a welcome thing,” Hedrick said.
Blue Springs Police Department Deputy Chief Bob Muenz said the city would participate in the alerts, but “our hope is that we will never have to use this system.”
David Carter, a professor in the Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice, said it’s difficult to measure whether Blue Alerts are effective because many factors are involved when a suspect is caught. Carter is a former Kansas City police officer.
“It’s hard to draw a conclusion scientifically, but certainly there is an emotional component,” Carter said.