Wednesday, April 23, 2014 5:23 AM
Photo by Nancy Royden. Col. Terrence B. Sheridan, Maryland State Police superintendent, speaks Monday afternoon in Upper Marlboro at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 89 regarding a national bill modeled on Maryland’s “Blue Alert” system. With him are, far left, Prince George’s County Sheriff Melvin C. High and Interim Chief Mark Magaw of the Prince George’s County Police Department, second from right.
Published on: Thursday, March 31, 2011
By Nancy Royden
Sabrina Worthington and other family members of slain Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class Wesley Brown stood Monday with law enforcement officers in Upper Marlboro to support a national “Blue Alert” bill.
The bill would create a nationwide alert system to help quickly apprehend suspects accused of killing, kidnapping or seriously wounding law enforcement officers.
The alert system would be used to share critical information about the suspect or suspects to the public, media and law enforcement agencies, said bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., during the press conference at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 89.
Last June, Worthington’s brother was killed at Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar in Forestville. At that time, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed an executive order creating the Maryland Blue Alert System, Cardin said.
“I am pleased that states like Maryland have taken the lead in creating a ‘Blue Alert’ system patterned after the Amber Alerts, which has been used successfully to help apprehend child abductors,” Cardin said. “We now need to take it to the next level and put in place a national alert system that will ensure the speedy apprehension of violent criminals who have injured or killed law enforcement officers.”
In 2008, Florida was the first state to establish a Blue Alert system. Other states with a Blue Alert system include Virginia, Mississippi, Georgia, California, Florida, Alabama, Delaware, Texas and Oklahoma.
“The ability to communicate quickly to as large an audience as possible is vital if we are to successfully identify, locate and apprehend a suspect wanted for the murder or serious injury of a law enforcement officer,” said Col. Terrence B. Sheridan, Maryland State Police superintendent. “The national Blue Alert program will improve our ability to rapidly disseminate important suspect information to our citizens and enlist their support in bringing those who harm our police officers to justice.”
Forty-eight law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2009, and during the past 10 years, an average of 53 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty each year, according a statement from Cardin’s office citing information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Too often our police officers are target for criminals who have no regard for order in our society,” said Chuck Canterbury, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police. “This Blue Alert legislation provides law enforcement and the public with the tools needed for the quickest apprehension of those who remain at large and remain a threat to our officers and our communities.”
Mark Magaw, interim chief of the Prince George’s County Police Department, also said too many police officers have been killed in the line of duty.
“We need to do everything we can to keep our law enforcement officers safe,” he said.
During the event, Sheriff Melvin C. High thanked families of slain law enforcement officers and Cardin for supporting the legislation.
Sue Nickerson, president of the Maryland Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors, attended the press conference in support of families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty. Her son, Michael, was shot and killed, along with his partner, while they were working on Feb. 13, 2001 for the Centreville Police Department.
“My husband and I, we miss him every day of our lives. However, we know he was doing a job he loved,” she said.
Today, she keeps his memory close at hand, as she wears a badge-shaped pendant with his photo.
Nickerson said if someone would reach out and hurt a law enforcement officer, she believes they would have no problem taking down others with them.
Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Lindsay Graham, D-S.C., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., are also sponsoring the bill, Cardin said.
“Blue Alert is about officer safety … these senators are real friends to law enforcement,” Canterbury said.