A new Tennessee bill signed into effect yesterday establishes the “Blue Alert system” “to provide a statewide system for the rapid dissemination of information to speed the apprehension of violent criminals who kill or seriously injure law enforcement officers and to aid in the location of missing law enforcement officers.” Eleven other states have enacted similar laws, and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) announced on May 16th his intention to co-sponsor national Blue Alert system.
In the event the TBI receives report of a law enforcement officer injured, killed, or missing in the line of duty, the new law authorizes the TBI to issue an alert for un-apprehended suspects. The TBI will be required to adopt guidelines and procedures to handle such alert. The agency must also provide education and training to radio and television broadcasters to encourage broadcast media participation. Through consultation with TDOT, the TBI will develop a procedure for the use of “overhead permanent changeable message signs.” Additionally, for the purposes of a Blue Alert, the TBI will be authorized to use the statewide infrastructure in place for AMBER Alerts.
The law will be codified at Tennessee Code Annotated § 38-6-122 and will go into effect July 1 of this year. Legislative history, including the original bill and amendments, may be found here.