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Texas launches 'Blue Alert' network for line of duty incidents

By Jim Vertuno
The Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Monday ordered a new "Blue Alert" system to help find and arrest suspects when a law enforcement officer is killed or seriously injured in the line of duty.

Similar to Amber Alerts for cases of child abduction and Silver Alerts used for missing senior citizens, Blue Alerts will use Texas Department of Transportation highway message signs to display information such as a suspect's vehicle description or license plate number.

The Blue Alert system will also coordinate with the Department of Public Safety and Perry's Division of Emergency Management to get the information to television and radio stations for broadcast.

The program "will be a powerful tool that leverages the eyes and ears of many toward the apprehension of criminals who threaten our protectors," Perry said.

The program would use several criteria to determine if a Blue Alert is warranted:

- A law enforcement officer is killed or seriously injured by an offender.

- The investigating law enforcement agency determines the suspect poses a serious threat to the public or other law officers.

- A detailed description of the suspect's vehicle and tag or a partial tag is available for broadcast.

- The investigating agency requests a Blue Alert.

Perry's office said Florida uses a similar program.

Joining Perry at Monday's news conference at the Austin police department were dozens of law enforcement officers from several cities and counties.

Cathy Hill's husband Barry was a Harris County deputy sheriff when he was shot to death in 2000. His killer, Robert Will, is on death row. After killing the deputy, Will stole a car and drove to Brenham, where he was eventually captured by an officer who had heard about the shooting on the radio, Hill said.

"Families have been saying you've got to catch (them) quicker. ... This will be greatly appreciated," by families of officers, she said. "I believe it will be a nationwide thing. It will catch on."

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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