Costa bill to establish Officer Down alert system wins unanimous House support

HARRISBURG, Feb. 7 – State Rep. Dom Costa, D-Allegheny, today said his measure to establish the Pennsylvania Officer Down Advisory system unanimously passed the House today, sending it to the state Senate for consideration.

“Protection of our law enforcement officers and the communities they serve must be a priority, and House Bill 31 would provide a tremendous tool to aid in the apprehension of those suspected of causing serious injury or death to a law enforcement officer,” Costa said. “I am gratified by the prompt consideration and support it received today in the House and look forward to similar consideration in the Senate.”

Costa said the Officer Down Advisory system would do for an at-large suspect in an assault on a law enforcement officer what the Amber Alert system does for a kidnapping victim --  use media broadcasts and messaging signs along highways to help locate the vehicle and individual.

“An Officer Down alert would provide virtually an all-points bulletin for the public to assist in locating an assault suspect,” Costa said. “The Amber Alert system has proven successful, and I believe a similar system should be implemented to ensure the swifter capture of those suspected of killing or seriously injuring law enforcement officers.”

Under the measure, the Pennsylvania State Police would establish and maintain the PA Officer Down Advisory. To activate the Officer Down alert system, H.B. 31 would require:

  • A law enforcement officer was killed or seriously injured by an offender;

  • The offender poses a serious risk or threat to the public and other law enforcement;

  • The offender’s vehicle, vehicle tag or partial tag is available for broadcast; and

  • The law enforcement agency recommends activation of the system.

No taxpayer funding would be needed to implement the system. Costs would be covered through assessments on court proceedings involving convictions, adjudications and accelerated rehabilitative disposition – ARD – judgements.

“The Officer Down Advisory system has been implemented successfully in other states, and we need to make the tool available in Pennsylvania as soon as possible,” Costa said.