Costa bill to establish Officer Down alert system passes House

HARRISBURG, June 17 – State Rep. Dom Costa’s legislation that would establish the Pennsylvania Officer Down Advisory system passed the House today.

The Officer Down 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, using media broadcasts and messaging signs along highways to help locate the vehicle and individual. 

The legislation would require that the following criteria be met to activate the system:

  • 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.

“Due to the success of Amber Alert, I believe a similar system is necessary to ensure the imminent capture of those suspected of killing or seriously injuring law enforcement officers,” said Costa, D-Allegheny. “This system, which has already been implemented in other states, would help to protect our law enforcement officers and communities from violent criminals.

“It’s imperative that individuals committing acts of violence against law enforcement officers face swift apprehension and justice. Protection of our law enforcement officers and the communities they serve remains a top priority for me a state representative, and I look forward to seeing swift action in the Senate.”

Costa said his plan is nearly identical to the federal “Blue Alert” system, signed into law May 19 by President Barack Obama.

The Blue Alert system, Obama said, "prevents the possibility that other officers may be caught by surprise, and it ensures that appropriate steps can be taken as quickly as possible."