A full 15 months after President Barack Obama signed the National Blue Alert Act, a USA Today report revealed the U.S. Department of Justice has not implemented any part of the legislation, meant to protect police from ambush attacks.
The news comes one month after the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) published a report indicating instances of police deaths in the line of duty have increased 78 percent in the first half of 2016.
The legislation, one of several measures recommended by the president’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing, establishes a national network for tracking active threats against police, and disseminates an alert when credible threats against officers are identified. The legislation passed both chambers of Congress on a voice vote after an ambush-style attack in Brooklyn left two New York City Police Department officers dead. (RELATED: Cop Deaths Up 78% From Last Years)
“What this legislation is going to do is to initiate a Blue Alert system so that when we know there is an active threat against law enforcement, that the alerts are going out at a comprehensive and expeditious way,” the president said when signing the law.
USA Today issued a FOIA request to DOJ, seeking a variety of guidance documents and reports required by the legislation. The Department responded that no such documents existed because they had not yet begun to implement the law. DOJ explained in a separate statement that it took over a year to determine which office within the Department would be responsible for implementation of the statute.
“Since the passage of the Blue Alert Act, the department has devoted time and consideration to ensure the most appropriate and well suited DOJ component lead this effort,” said Shannon Long of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
Thirty-two officers have been killed in firearms-related fatalities so far this year, compared to 18 deaths during the same period in 2015, according to the NLEOMF.
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