FCC Announces National Roll Out Of Amber Alerts But For Cops

from the how-much-more-do-Blue-Lives-Matter? dept

The FCC has done away with Net Neutrality. In its place, we get videos of Ajit Pai mocking his opponents, served up in a melange of mishandled memes. We also, apparently, get this: a future where our lives are interrupted by push notifications that treat grown-ass police officers like kidnapped children. (h/t That Anonymous Coward)

The Federal Communications Commission today added a new alert option—called a “Blue Alert”—to the nation’s emergency alerting systems. Blue Alerts can be used by state and local authorities to notify the public of threats to law enforcement and to help apprehend dangerous suspects.

Blue Alerts warn the public when there is actionable information related to a law enforcement officer who is missing, seriously injured or killed in the line of duty, or when there is an imminent credible threat to an officer. A Blue Alert could quickly warn you if a violent suspect may be in your community, along with providing instructions on what to do if you spot the suspect and how to stay safe.

Warning people about violent suspects in their area is somewhat useful -- a severe weather alert but for crime. But there's no reason for a system like this to prioritize crimes against police officers. Adding mere threats to the mix just adds a bunch of junk info of nearly no use to the citizens on the receiving end of these alerts. At best, people will clear them from their screen as quickly as they do interloping Amber Alerts. At worst, they'll decide to play Batman and put themselves and officers at risk by attempting to Do Something.

This is being rolled out nationally, following two years of prep that commenced after the passage of the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act, named after two NYPD officers who died in an ambush attack. It's a DOJ initiative, but one that requires the assistance of the FCC to utilize the national Emergency Alert System. The FCC is also there to nudge wireless providers towards compliance with "voluntary" guidelines for pushing these alerts to cell phone users.

At this point, 28 states have already implemented some form of "Blue Alert" system. The national roll out will encompass the remaining states and US territories. That's what the FCC is announcing: the use of two alert networks to tell people cops are in danger.

Today's Order provides a 12-month implementation period for Blue Alerts to be delivered over the Emergency Alert System and 18 months for delivery over the Wireless Emergency Alert system.

This bill should never have been made law. There's nothing out there that suggests distributing this information outside of law enforcement networks will have any net safety benefit for the public. Taking it nationwide only adds to "Alert" market saturation. Cops have strong support systems and plenty of firepower on their side, unlike missing seniors (Silver Alert) or kidnapped children (Amber Alert). And, unlike targeted weather alerts, a Blue Alert offers up almost no information usable by the general public. If a suspect is still on the loose, the most beneficial information is only implicit: cops are searching for a suspect who hurt/killed one of theirs. For citizens in the area, the best option is to shelter in place. That way they (and their vehicles) won't be mistaken for suspects' and filled with bullet holes.

In all seriousness, the Blue Alert system only serves one purpose: to elevate law enforcement officers above the people they serve, granting their victimhood a higher status than that granted to their fellow citizens.


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  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 27 Dec 2017 @ 3:54pm

    Spewing for Justice

    FCC Announces National Roll Out Of Amber Alerts But For Cops

    How about a vomit alert?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Dec 2017 @ 4:01pm

    What next, Jeff Sessions authorizing a “Brown Alert” for crimes committed only by people of color?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Dec 2017 @ 4:13pm

      Re:

      I would think a brown alert would be for crimes against UPS drivers. :P

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 27 Dec 2017 @ 4:43pm

      Re:

      Well they've already got something similar for foreigners, so it wouldn't be that much of a stretch...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 27 Dec 2017 @ 5:17pm

      Re:

      Brown alert because foreigners make the alt-Reich mess their pants with phobia.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Dec 2017 @ 5:55pm

      Re:

      The ring tone for said Brown Alert,
      would be the Brown Note.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Unanimous Cow Herd, 27 Dec 2017 @ 6:54pm

      Re:

      If you RTFA, this is 2 years in the making. Is it a waste of resources? Likely. Is it something to make some partisan attack out of? No. I dislike Sessions immensely, but this is really just a shit comment.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Cowdingo, 27 Dec 2017 @ 8:53pm

      Re:

      We already have those, they are called police sirens. They are mounted on all police cars.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2017 @ 2:40am

        Re: Re:

        No, no, the siren says get out of the way. Police used to carry a device for alerting the public to their need for assistance, it was called a whistle. It had the advantage that it alerted those close enough to help, and did not annoy those on the other side of town. Its second advantage,, to make sure it was useful, the police had to be on friendly terms with the majority of the people that they policed, because it was the only way they could summon aid.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 28 Dec 2017 @ 3:50am

      Re:

      I'm not sure if you jest. I don't doubt he would if it he was certain it wouldn't be met with widespread outrage.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Dec 2017 @ 4:25pm

    How long until fake news alerts start coming from the Presidential Alert System you can't disable?

    Newer types of alerting can include digital image files which can be vectors for malware. How about deregulating the gov't spam we are forced to receive, Pai?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    McGyver (profile), 27 Dec 2017 @ 4:33pm

    I thought we buy them guns and radios and other fun stuff so they can take care of that on their own..?
    I find this funny, because when you genuinely try to help, most treat you like you are a peasant asshole... In all the times I've done my civic duty, I've yet to have gotten a simple "thanks"...
    I'm filing this one in my "Whatever" folder...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    fizzle, 27 Dec 2017 @ 4:52pm

    New game!

    Let's treat it as a betting game. When will the next one go off? Pays double if the pig dies.

    What, don't like people being rude about cops? Stop coopting my phone to tell me about it then.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Dec 2017 @ 5:59pm

    Blue Alert Syndrome

    Why is it that for me the only scenarios that I can imagine where a Blue Alert might be necessary all relate to some misbehavior by the cop(s) involved? (I have relatives and friends in law enforcement that I do care about, so this not about hating all cops).

    If they were up to something good, then other cops would be right on top of whatever they were doing. Or, so one would think.

    For those cop friendly folks who will object to this post, just how many police assassinations without other cops present have taken place...ever? How about cop kidnappings (as apposed to being taken hostage which is different and would not need any Blue Alerts)?

    Also, how much did the city wide alerts in Boston after the marathon bombings actually help? How much did they hurt? What's the balance? Where's the balance?

    Come to think of it, when is there not "an imminent credible threat to an officer"? They are hired to put themselves in those positions. This is not to suggest that cops should behave recklessly, they should take care, but their job is to face dangers so the general public doesn't have to. If they don't like the risks, there are plenty of other rent-a-cops security agencies hiring.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2017 @ 4:41am

      Re: Blue Alert Syndrome

      It is not now nor has it ever been the responsibility of the public to take care or armed law enforcement that many times couldn't care less if you are dead.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    slap (profile), 27 Dec 2017 @ 6:01pm

    Dangerous

    I live in the DC area. A number of years ago there was an Amber Alert on electronic signs over the Washington beltway for an abduction that happened in California. Many drivers would slow down to read the signs, creating a traffic hazard.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Dec 2017 @ 6:34pm

      Re: Dangerous

      I hope your amber alert hasnt been used as BS info like 'click it or ticket' - I just ignore the signs now

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Dec 2017 @ 7:00pm

      Re: Dangerous

      I have also seen the traffic perturbations caused by those stupid dot matrix signs.

      In the future when budgets are tight,
      those signs will proclaim - covfefe on sale next right.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    stine, 27 Dec 2017 @ 7:00pm

    just something else to disable

    The first thing I do when I get a new phone is disable all of the alerts, except for the presidential alert, which if I ever get one that isn't for 'the end of the world', I'll be heading to D.C. to prevent it from ever happening again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Agammamon, 27 Dec 2017 @ 7:18pm

    Oh this ought to be fun. Right now my own area gets weather alerts from a major city (we're a tiny little one) 300 miles away because we're grouped in the same reporting zone. Its really nice to know that there are 'duststorm conditions in Maricopa County' at 5 in the morning on a Saturday. Or the perennial 'burning would is prohibited due to a smog warning in Maricopa County' that only ever happens on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and never never never any other time of the year.

    Now we'll be getting notifications of 'potential' crime threats in Phoenix. That'll be useful info to have.

    Until I turn it off like I did with the weather alerts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Agammamon, 27 Dec 2017 @ 7:20pm

      Re:

      Oh, and its still bullshit that you can't disable Presidential Alerts.

      I don't hate Trump but I can imagine he'll be the first to start tweeting there if he ever loses his Twitter account.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 27 Dec 2017 @ 7:33pm

    This looks like the next 2MH step.

    This is to announce exciting police incidents, to reveal how good a job the blue line is fighting back the onslaught of crime, and to provide embellishments that justify why the police is beating / gunning down suspects in the area. I would be surprised if the system was not used in a couple of years to post false incidents in order to support our populist tough-on-crime political messaging.

    The current administration has already announced that the US crime rate is comparable to Gotham (or Cabot Cove), that we should regard the police as well as we regard Batman, and equip them like the caped crusader as well (or at least like front-line soldiers).

    Of course, tough on crime generally means tough on poor people and marginalized groups. since policies labeled as such make rights easier to circumvent, and suspects easier to convict (regardless of actual guilt).

    The legal system, at this point, serves mostly to fill prisons with warm bodies. I expect Blue alerts will be used to justify such extreme policy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Dec 2017 @ 7:46pm

      Re: This looks like the next 2MH step.

      If we do get alerts of an active shootout between cops and gangs, how many would show up to support which sides? This could backfire.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Dec 2017 @ 7:46pm

    BLUE ALERT

    THERE IS DANGER OUTSIDE. CITIZENS ARE ENCOURAGED TO REMAIN IN A PERPETUAL STATE OF FEAR AND UNCERTAINTY. REMAIN IN YOUR HOMES AND DO NOT ENGAGE ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS UNLESS COOPERATION IS REQUIRED.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Dec 2017 @ 7:52pm

    Amber Alerts exist because children are not able to fend for themselves. We, as adults, have somewhat of a moral obligation to help children in danger. An emergency alert system for severe events, e.g. a natural disaster, wildfire, terrorist attack or something else the public should avoid also makes sense.

    But these only work when used sparingly. If you treat every thunderstorm as a hurricane, then when a real hurricane comes along, people will ignore the warning.

    The same thing applies here. Start firing off alerts for every little thing and people will ignore them.

    Besides, what purpose is a Blue Alert supposed to serve? What is the general public supposed to do about it? The police already have a dispatch system for responding when one of their own is in danger. A Blue Alert could put them in even more danger if crowds of people (or worse, cop haters) decide to get involved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 27 Dec 2017 @ 11:31pm

      Re:

      "Amber Alerts exist because children are not able to fend for themselves."

      "Besides, what purpose is a Blue Alert supposed to serve? What is the general public supposed to do about it?"

      Because they see cops as special snowflakes that, like children, can't handle themselves in public?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 28 Dec 2017 @ 11:46am

      Re:

      The reason why Amber Alerts are needed is that children are not able to fend for themselves.

      The reason why Amber Alerts are useful is that a member of the public who is aware of the alert and sees something related to the alert can do something which helps resolve the problem - if nothing else, report the sighting to law enforcement.

      As far as I can see, no analog to either of these things holds for Blue Alerts and police officers.

      Police officers are, generally, able to fend for themselves; if they were not, it would be unreasonable to expect them to also fend for others, as is the basis of their job.

      And when a police officer is in a situation which he (or other pronoun) cannot handle alone, the odds that a member of the general public who sees the situation - whether aware of the alert or not - will be able to do anything to help resolve the problem are exceedingly slim. (Not to mention that the general public are generally advised not to get involved in anything that requires the intervention of police officers.)

      As such... what useful effect, exactly, is introducing these alerts supposed to have?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    MyNameHere, 27 Dec 2017 @ 9:35pm

    Death to net neutrality? More support for cops?

    2018 is going to be great. I anticipate the trolls trying to shout me down. Mmm!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Dec 2017 @ 9:38pm

    Nothing New, Just a Tip o' the Hat

    "In all seriousness, the Blue Alert system only serves one purpose: to elevate law enforcement officers above the people they serve, granting their victimhood a higher status than that granted to their fellow citizens."

    This doesn't elevate the LEOs' statuses - it merely publicly acknowledges a pre-existing condition. Cops always care more about other cops than they do "the littul peepul." They want to terrorize criminals into avoiding damaging cops at all costs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2017 @ 8:57am

      Re: Nothing New, Just a Tip o' the Hat

      " it merely publicly acknowledges a pre-existing condition"

      Well then, it is not covered.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TRX, 27 Dec 2017 @ 11:25pm

    My local town bombs my land line with Amber Alerts and "information notices" about trash pickup, burn bans, and other spam. They have some out-of-state service that uses at least a dozen different numbers, and they'll wardial the land line every ten minutes until someone picks it up and lets the recording yammer.

    So far they're not doing the cellphones. They get their share of misdials and spam, but not the wardialing.

    It is swiftly coming to the point where the phones are more trouble than they're worth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jajo (profile), 28 Dec 2017 @ 12:07am

    Why is so many people against this? A service, that informs citizen when and where there are armed, dangerous and unstable hoodlums outside their homes sounds like a good thing to me!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2017 @ 12:58am

      Re:

      We should not forget that such a "service" was provided to the people of Fallujah, Iraq, in November 2004, just before the US military was sent in with orders to shoot and kill every single man, woman, child, and dog seen in public.

      Anyone who thinks that such a "kill em all, let god sort them out" mentality only happens among soldiers in war battlefields should remember that many cops were in fact soldiers on those battlefields (as active-duty or reservists) and took part in the slaughter.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2017 @ 4:45am

        Re: Re:

        Nice statement. Any proof or is it as vacuous as everything else you post?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2017 @ 8:58am

        Re: Re:

        So, we all now live in a war zone?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 28 Dec 2017 @ 1:36pm

          Yes. We live in a war zone.

          The 2011 NDAA included a clause determining that the US is a battlefield for purposes of arresting persons as enemy combatants, detaining them indefinitely and interrogating them with US sanctioned enhanced interrogation techniques.

          As far as I know, this has never been repealed.

          So yes.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 28 Dec 2017 @ 1:31pm

        Within police rhetoric and documentation...

        ...there's a lot of implication that the public is the enemy.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2017 @ 2:48am

      Re:

      We're against it because it's extremely stupid. If you can't see that, perhaps YOU are extremely stupid and should remain silent while those who are superior to you discuss matters that are clearly beyond your pitifully feeble comprehension.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Vidiot (profile), 28 Dec 2017 @ 4:59am

        Re: Re:

        If you roll over the highlighted links he cites, you'll see it's sarcasm... stories about dangerous criminals with badges and guns, and the danger they pose to average citizens. Subtle, but on-point.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2017 @ 12:32am

    When five cops were killed in Dallas by a lone gunman last year, police departments in cities all across the country hunkered down in their bulletproof buildings and stopped patrolling, responding to calls, and everything else police are supposed to do to "serve and protect" the public. Yet despite the extreme paranoia of police, the predicted "open season on cops" that they were sure would happen never took place. It certainly raises the question of who the police really work for if they get to skip work (but still get paid) any time they feel threatened, whether justified or not.

    Society would be far better off if police were not constantly being radicalized by exaggerated threats and paranoid predictions to the point where they start seeing everyone as potential enemies that need to be gunned down for their own safety. Of course it's only a tiny percentage of cops who kill unarmed, innocent people, but it's still a number that's much too high, and implementing warning systems (remember those bogus Bush-era color-coded travel "alerts") will only serve to make things worse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    dickeyrat (profile), 28 Dec 2017 @ 2:45am

    Let's all drop everything to pay all possible assistance to The Police State! Stop everything you're doing, someone spit at a Cop! If the pigs--I mean, Cops, can't accept the fact that danger is part of the gig, them let them quit to get jobs as milkmen, or in Trump's coal mines. I for one almost never watch television, but I don't look forward to having my cell-phone or anything else disturbed and perturbed by -- O No!! -- A precious Cop is in some kind of danger somewhere! No shit, Sherlock!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 28 Dec 2017 @ 3:52am

    This is just noise. I'd simply find some app to block all alerts because blues are so thin skinned that their alerts will spam phones nationwide.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2017 @ 6:36am

    From the marketing dept.

    This is simply a stunt to promote the Police. A direct feed into peoples phones that tell them exactly what they want you to hear in order to promote cops in the best light possible in every situation.
    Cop shoots unarmed citizen? First thing to do is report it in so the alert can go out about a dangerous psycho in the area or a robbery suspect. Then wait 30 minutes and report the "kill" or type in the wrong time in report.
    Cops need money?: Send out alert of drug kingpin lookout squad and that they will seize "contraband"... messages that many will not read and that completely ignores that criminals also get them.

    It seems to me that this is not a justice system but a justification system for all the crap that is done by law enforcement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2017 @ 7:11am

      Re: From the marketing dept.

      "This is simply a stunt to promote the Police. A direct feed into peoples phones that tell them exactly what they want you to hear in order to promote cops in the best light possible in every situation."

      Relax. They're just getting ahead of protesters. This will mostly likely be used to send "We're watching you motherfucker" notes, when there is civil disobedience going on. Not a big deal.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2017 @ 8:23am

    More special treatment for the militarized police class. This is just another step in an insidious process of population control.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 28 Dec 2017 @ 10:11am

    My favorite part

    My favorite part of the announcement: "
    "Blue Alerts can be used by state and local authorities to notify the public... to help apprehend dangerous suspects."
    So the public gets to help apprehend dangerous suspects? How? People already call in tips so why is a push-alert needed? Or is this telling people that it's okay to grab your gun and go help the police arrest (or "apprehend") the person?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously, 28 Dec 2017 @ 10:48am

    Obviously

    This makes perfect sense. The police need to be protected from the public.
    Who better to use as a human shield against the public than the public. The public will not lynch itself, after all.
    These politicians and this FCC will need all the police-protection it can save now, when the pitchforks hit the streets...
    /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2017 @ 11:25am

    Crap...I was hoping it would be used to notify citizens if there was a dangerous cop in their area.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Dec 2017 @ 10:33am

    This just boggles the mind.

    Screw the public over.....and then were expected to CARE about those that are doing the screwing of the people, over.

    First thing that came to mind when reading about this

    They want their cake and eat it

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2018 @ 11:33am

    Blue Alert = "non-white" people hide from cops

    The real reason for this is to warn the 'non-white' citizens that a pissed off cop in fear of their life (due to an alert) is now going to shoot them on sight and claim that they were a terrorist...

    Taking bets now... how long between the first 'blue alert' and the first citizen being shot 'accidentally' (who just happens to be a non-white citizen who was unarmed and had no record)?

    I say it depends on the size of the city, populatino > 500,000 it will be less than 6 hours, less than that and it could be a whole day before someone gets shot...

    Ok, who's going to setup the 'blue alert' roulette website so we can start betting on this crap?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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