Member Login

Forgot Password?
Need Login?

You are here: Home > News & Events > News > FCC Proposes to add…
Welcome, guest: Login to your account

FCC Proposes to add “Blue Alerts to Emergency Alert System

The FCC has announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to  add another broadcast EAS alert, called a Blue Alert, to the nation’s Emergency Alert System.

The FCC said a Blue Alert would be similar to the Amber Alerts that are used to find and recover missing children. 

“With this step, we are not just advancing a policy,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. 

“We are affirming a principle: that we have a collective responsibility to protect and serve those who protect and serve us.” 

With a Blue Alert, state and local authorities can send warnings over broadcast, cable, satellite, and wireline video networks to quickly warn a community of imminent threats to police. 

The FCC said Blue Alerts could quickly warn the public if a violent suspect may be in a community, along with providing instructions on what to do if someone spots the suspect or how to stay safe.

Some 27 states currently use Blue Alerts over EAS to notify the public when there is actionable information related to a law enforcement officer who is missing, imminently and credibly threatened, or seriously injured or killed in the line of duty. 

In 2008, Gov. Rick Perry issued RP 68, an executive order creating the state's Blue Alert program.

It is not EAS based.

During a Blue Alert, Texans receive information from the DPS regarding a suspected assailant, in hopes that it facilitates tips and leads to law enforcement.  

The information is sent to interested stations by a variety of methods, but EAS is not used.

SB 1138 by Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, passed in the recent legislative session, provided an update to the Texas Blue Alert program.

It established the types of information that law enforcement agencies would have to give to DPS if they suspected someone of killing or causing serious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer and the person had not yet been apprehended.

The bill also establishes how DPS would activate the Texas Blue Alert system, including sending an alert to interested media outlets, law enforcement agencies, and state agencies.

It does nothing to require the use of EAS to disseminate such information.

The bill also clarifies the content of alerts and when alerts would be terminated.

The FCC is proposing amending its EAS rules by creating a dedicated Blue Alert event code so that state and local agencies have the option to send these warnings to the public through broadcast, cable, satellite, and wireline video providers.

The proposal is intended to support the development of a national framework that states can adopt.

The FCC’s new goal is consistent with the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015.

Brooklyn police officers Ramos and Liu were ambushed by an assailant while they were on a stakeout for another case.

There had been advance information that the assailant was headed to New York City to do harm to police officers there.

The Act, which is being implemented by the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), directs cooperation with the FCC.

The NPRM is FCC 17-74, PS Docket No. 15-94.

Questions?  Contact TAB's Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

« Back to News Archive
« Back to Latest News