Ohio's law enforcement officers make great sacrifices to keep our communities safe. Now, it's time to make sure that America's public
servants have the resources to remain safe from the innumerable threats they encounter while on patrol. A new proposal would quickly alert the public in the
event that a police officer is feloniously attacked while on duty.
This is one modest investment we cannot afford to ignore.
During National Police
Week, communities across Ohio and throughout the United States commemorate law enforcement officials who have died while on duty. Their families, of course,
live with their loss every day.
According to the most recent FBI data available, 48 law enforcement officials across the United States were killed in
the line of duty in 2009. More than 57,000 were assaulted while on the job.
A mother of two young sons, who I recently met in northeast Ohio, is leading
an effort to reduce the number of law enforcement officials who make the ultimate sacrifice. Sara Winfield's husband, Brandy, was shot and killed while on
duty as a Marion County Sheriff Deputy.
Sara once wrote that her husband, Deputy Brandy Winfield, knew that he wanted to be a cop when he was a boy.
He became an explorer with the sheriff's office. He started dispatching before he graduated from high school,Sara wrote in a tribute to her husband.
Surviving spouses like Sara Winfield are transforming grief into action.
As a leader in the group Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), Mrs. Winfield
is now helping other families cope with the loss of their partner, parent, child, colleague, spouse, or sibling. And she's fighting to protect police officers
and the American public from the most violent of criminals.
To aid advocates like Sara, I'm cosponsoring legislation to create a nationwide alert system
to apprehend people suspected of injuring or killing police officers.
The bipartisan National Blue Alert Act of 2011 similar to the "Amber Alerts" used to find missing children would establish a national
communications network within the Department of Justice (DOJ) to disseminate information when a
law enforcement officer is seriously harmed or killed in the line of duty. This alert would drastically reduce the time necessary to locate and arrest suspected
Some thirteen other states have a Blue Alert system in place. However, no such alert system exists in any Midwestern state.
existing Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program funding from the DOJ, the Blue Alert system would, first, encourage state and local governments
to develop additional protocols to help apprehend suspects.
Blue Alerts would be broadcast on local media and messaging signs and would include a
detailed description of the suspect, vehicle, and other indentifying information.
In addition to the Concerns of Police Survivors, the Fraternal Order
of Police, the National Sheriff's Association, and other groups support this bipartisan legislation.
We need to act swiftly.
Sara and survivors
throughout the United States endure an immense personal loss that can never be repaid.
Here's what we can do: Communities can join advocates for the
Blue Alert system in ensuring that the tools are in place to stop the people who harm and kill law enforcement officers. This can serve as a powerful
deterrent to a detestable crime.
Let's work to keep our communities safe.
We can start by equipping law enforcement officials with the tools
needed to stop criminals and improve their ability to respond to violence without delay.