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Sen. Cardin urges support for Blue Alert legislation

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Published on: Thursday, May 16, 2013

By Holden Wilen

ROCKVILLE — While public officials and community leaders across the country are expressing gratitude to law enforcement in honor of National Police Week, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-MD, was in Rockville to present a national call to action in support of police.

Cardin visited the Rockville Police Headquarters Monday to take a tour of the facility and urge support for the National Blue Alert Act of 2013, a bill he sponsored to create a nationwide system used to disseminate information regarding individuals who injure or kill police officers.

The Blue Alert system is modeled after the Amber Alerts system used for missing children, Cardin said. In 2012, 127 officers were killed, he said, and a better job needs to be done to keep law enforcement officers safe. Terry Treschuck, Rockville city police chief, said Maryland is currently one of 18 states that has already implemented its own form of a Blue Alert system.

The Maryland Blue Alert System was formed shortly after Maryland State Trooper Wesley Brown was murdered outside an Applebee’s restaurant in Forestville in 2010.

“We have no national coordination or national coordinator,” Cardin said. “We do not have any way to share best practices. What you are doing in Maryland should be shared with other states and you learn from each other, which will keep law enforcement safer in this country. That is the bottom line here. We are trying to do our share to help law enforcement. This National Police Week we say nice things, but we also want to act to provide the safety that is necessary.”

Among those in attendance at the press conference were Montgomery County Council members Marc Elrich and Nancy Floreen, Rockville Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio, and City Council members Mark Pierzchala, Tom Moore and Bridget Newton.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett also attended the event and spoke in support of Cardin’s bill. In Montgomery County, there have been 17 officers killed, Leggett said, and he thinks a national Blue Alert system will help lower the number of officers killed nationwide. Leggett also cited the death of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, who was allegedly killed by the suspected Boston bombers, as an example for why a Blue Alert system is necessary.

“When you think about it, you think about someone who may take the life or seriously injure a public official such as a law enforcement officer, that person needs to be taken off his feet as quickly as possible because the audacity and determination and the will to do that means that everyone else is vulnerable,” Leggett said. “Having an alert system that aids and assists in trying to identify and bring public attention to that type of person I think is a must.”

The bill has not been passed yet, Cardin said, but the House of Representatives will take it on next week. Despite the bill receiving “bipartisan support,” Cardin said the process for getting the bill passed will be tedious.

The legislation is cosponsored by 12 other senators including Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill. Of the 13 co-sponsors, 12 are Democrats and one, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is a Republican. In order to get the bill passed, Cardin urged the audience for support.

“I am proud that Maryland has been a leader in the use of the Blue Alert System,” Cardin said. “It works. We now need to expand this valuable tool to put in place a national alert system that will ensure the speedy apprehension of violent criminals. Our public service officers go above and beyond to protect our communities, and in return, we need to go above and beyond for them.”

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