This Thanksgiving, as I sat around the table with my beautiful family, I couldn’t help but be thankful that my dad was here to celebrate us. As many daughters of police officers, I live in the constant worry and fear of losing my father in the line of duty. Thankfully with his new retirement and second chapter of his career, he is no longer out on the road protecting our community as he once was, but many people from his department that we call family and love dearly still are.
The year of 2014 was a hard year for the Michigan police family, with 110 line of duty deaths just in the state, including the close loss of Trooper Chad Wolf, and the very close-to-home close-to-heart death of one of our own in Ingham Country, Deputy Grant Whitaker on December 7, 2014.
As many people have heard of Amber Alerts, which alert citizens of a missing child, and Silver Alerts, which alert citizens of a missing senior citizen, The Blue Alert Foundation, Inc. has developed the Blue Alert system to help give Law Enforcement the means to speed the apprehension of violent criminals who kill or seriously injure local, state, or federal law enforcement officers. This encompasses the same idea of the Amber and Silver Alert: alerting the public via all means of communication to keep the public safe from an at-large criminal who recently murdered a police officer. Currently in legislation, the Blue Alert bill is being passed in states across the nation. To date, 25 states have implemented a Blue Alert system, and eight are working on implementation.
The Blue Alert bill orders the Department of Justice to establish a national Blue Alert communications network to disseminate information on: the serious injury or death of a law enforcement officer in the line of duty; an officer who is missing in connection with the officer’s official duties; or an imminent and credible threat that an individual intends to cause the serious injury or death of a law enforcement officer.
When hearing about such act, my father took to legislation for change and implementation himself for the sake of the community and his fellow brothers and sisters. During the incident of the death of Deputy Grant Whitaker, there was a suspect that was at large, including a vehicle description and a video of the vehicle. Using this information paired with the Blue Alert system could have led to a quicker and more efficient prosecution of the suspect whose actions led to the death of Grant Whitaker.
My father, Sergeant at Ingham County, presented the idea to the Michigan Fraternal Order of Police, who then asked state senator Tonya Schuitmaker to sponsor a bill. After the passing of the bill in Lansing, Senator Tonya Schuitmaker spoke saying, “When an officer is seriously hurt or killed in the line of duty, Blue Alert gets out the information on the suspect and all the identifying criteria to help other officers.” In Michigan, our bill has passed in the Senate and is now before the House Criminal Justice Committee before it heads to the House floor!
President Obama has spoken in support of Blue Alert, saying, “It’s important for us not only to honor their memory, it’s also important for us to make sure that we do everything we can to help ensure the safety of our police officers when they’re in the line of duty,” during an Oval Office signing ceremony where he invited the families of slain officers over the past years.
The police family is my family, and to me, blue lives matter. It takes a very special breed of person to care for those who care so little. If you followed a police officer for a day, the depressing and dangerous situations that they must face, I can almost guarantee that you would not choose to follow them for a second day. The job of a police officer is hard, terrifying, and daunting, yet they choose this job, career, and passion every single day. Certainly, with more eyes and ears in the community looking for the suspect that recently injured or murdered a police officer, the community will continue to be safer and the police officers will continue to be protected.
Interested in signing up for Blue Alert? Click here and sign up with your phone number and email address for the safety of yourself, your police officers, and your community. If your state has not implemented the Blue Alert system, I urge you to write to your state legislature and ask for their help and consideration with this important cause.