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Your Phone May Send You 'Blue Alerts' To Warn You When Local Police Are In Danger ( 318

The FCC recently announced a new alert program called "Blue Alert" that will notify the public of threats to law enforcement in real time. "With the creation of a dedicated Blue Alert event code in the Emergency Alert System, state and local law enforcement will have the capability to push immediate warnings out to the public via broadcast, cable, and satellite providers, as well as to consumer smartphones through the Wireless Emergency Alert system," reports Android Police. From the report: Much like both the SILVER and AMBER alert programs, and utilizing the same notification system, Blue Alerts aim to warn the general public of threats to public safety and/or imminent danger. However, the police force focused alert system provides timely information to the public when police officers may be in danger. Chairman of the FCC and recent deregulator of the internet, Ajit Pai detailed the new FCC order saying, "Similar to the Amber Alerts that many are familiar with, Blue Alerts will enable authorities to 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."

The December 14 order from the FCC activates the Blue Alerts service for one calendar year to deliver the notifications over the Emergency Alert System, and for 18 months over the Wireless Emergency Alert system.

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Your Phone May Send You 'Blue Alerts' To Warn You When Local Police Are In Danger

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  • Please, no... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @07:22PM (#55771805)

    Yes, this is a good idea, let's all converge on the scene of a shootout... Or whatever.

    On the one hand, with typical "police behavior", often we are lucky when there are "citizen" observers.

    On ywt another hand, this presents a safety danger with unknown consistences many of which are not good.

    Another aspect that comes to mind is that this is just one more step in the direction of a "Police State" where our Law Enforcement are seen as some holy religious order, our Priests in Blue... We've all seen these 200 car processions when a police officer is killed in the line of duty...

    I don't think this is a well thought-out idea.

    • Re:Please, no... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jdavidb ( 449077 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @07:53PM (#55772075) Homepage Journal
      I think it's well thought out by those who want a police state where we view law enforcement as holy priests in blue. I don't want it, either.
    • by mea2214 ( 935585 )

      I don't think this is a well thought-out idea.

      Ajit Pai is behind this. What more can you expect?

    • Yeah, I can imagine it now: []

      And: []

      "CNN is reporting is an 18-mile-long funeral procession for Officer Charles “Joe” Gliniewicz"

    • The whole alert system was a poorly planned out. After the first alert jarring me while driving, almost causing collisions, and inciting a state of panic, I turned that feature off and no longer get any level of alerts. A softer, longer, tone which does not blast at me would have been much more welcomed.

    • It's OK, I already think cops are way better than priests.

    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      All those good guys with a gun need to find a good way to use them.

    • You're clearly unfamiliar with the Principles Of Pinochetian-Minarchism, explained in meme form here. []

    • Here's a news flash: The US has been a fully operational police state since end of 2001. But if you want to get technical, I guess Nixson's 1960s would be just as valid a milestone. Read "Rise of the warrior cop" by Radley Balko if you want to know more.

      The state, its branches of government, has lost all meaningful control over the domestic legal monopoly of violence. The federal and local police now operate semi-autonomously, with large incomes through civil forfeiture, sizable contributions from military

  • by HotNeedleOfInquiry ( 598897 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @07:22PM (#55771817)
    Grab our rifles and come help. No future to that.
    • No future to that.

      But of course it is the future! It's the police moving to the Über gig independent contractor model.

      An app hails Über cops when the police need backup assistance. The Über cops grab their guns and race to the location to overwhelm the bad guys with shear numbers.

      A Facebook app can take pictures, and tell you from Facebook's faces database who is a good guy, and who is a bad guy, so you don't shoot at the wrong folks.

    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      I would have guessed clear or shelter in place as presumably this indicates some imminent risk to the area. However, keying that off of policemen under threat would seem to be a pretty indirect way to say that as opposed to a more general, but more localized emergency broadcast system message..

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @07:27PM (#55771853)

    How about an app that warns us when police are nearby and can be set to automatically record and stream to chosen sites if they get within ten feet? Cops nowadays are little more than sociopaths in military gear, and I'd rather not I (or possibly even my husband) get raped, killed, and our car arrested on suspicion of resisting.

    Just passing one by is quickly becoming a coin-toss as to whether or not we end up beaten and arrested on trumped-up charges especially if we're black. Police are not the ones that need protecting from anyone.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Just passing one by is quickly becoming a coin-toss as to whether or not we end up beaten and arrested on trumped-up charges especially if we're black.

      OK, I'll touch the third rail -- I have plenty of karma.

      Coin-toss, eh? Like, 50-50 odds. Guess you're pretty much hosed if you pass 5-6 every day like I do. How am I still alive?

      Oh, because the real numbers are somewhere around 1.5% of encounters [] where force is used or threatened . (Pro tip: that means the percentage of encounters where force was actually used is less than 1.5% -- about half that, according to the report.)

      This sort of fanciful swill is what passes for "insightful" on Slashdot these

  • by technosaurus ( 1704630 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @07:29PM (#55771875)
    What a total waste of money, time and infrastructure. Not that any PD would ever use it, but still...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Don't underestimate the stupidity of people wearing uniform.

      Yes, your subject is spot on. When there's a blue alert, crooks know that their odds of pulling off a heist went way up, because the fuzz will be busy rushing elsewhere. What a gift!

      • by Rakhar ( 2731433 )

        Yeah, I can see the supposed positives (informed public, safety in avoiding) but what I can't see is the gains outweighing the negatives. Also, for those positives to function it would leave open a pretty slippery slope to "Well, he had the alert, he should have stayed inside!"

        I think body cams that are on 100% of the time an officer is on the clock are a better idea. Management on the police side just has to be humane about what they do with it. Right now, in my area they aren't even being humane about

  • A policeofficer is in danger to many days for the idea to have any merit.

    Most police would advise against entering a hostile situation, thereby creating another potential victim or hostage.
  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @07:38PM (#55771951)

    All I imagine is a group of gang-bangers laughing as their phones go off while they are the cause of the threat.

  • Umm, OK, whatever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @07:43PM (#55771987)

    I don't have the foggiest notion what this is supposed to accomplish, really. If a situation is such that a cop is seriously endangered, what in the world could I do about it?

    It looks to me like all this does is to further decrease the signal-to-noise ratio in these sorts of things.

    • If a situation is such that a cop is seriously endangered, what in the world could I do about it?

      If you were a criminal, you could take advantage of the situation by committing a crime somewhere else. Or just steal their squad car.

    • It's like Policeman Go, but for criminals.

      The Blue alert keeps track of your score and how many cops are locked into your car trunk. []

  • by K. S. Van Horn ( 1355653 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @07:45PM (#55772005) Homepage

    ...matter so much more than yours or mine.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No, I did not see anything. No, I did not hear anything. Sorry, wish I could help you, Officer.

  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @07:48PM (#55772033)

    I can see this being useful for off-duty police officers, as there have been cases of them being accosted. However, ordinary people don't need to know every time a police officer gets hurt in a traffic collision (statistically, by far, the leading cause of unnatural serious injury or death to on-duty police.) I could maybe see this as some kind of active shooter alert system... but it's so overbroad it's almost never going to be such a scenario, and people will turn it off/tune it out and never get the message. Furthermore, if I'm hiding from a shooter and my phone starts a siren that can be heard a block away, I'm not gonna be hidden any longer.

    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      Of course no way to know how it will be employee, but I could see some active threat alert, but shouldn't require a policemen to be injured prior to such an alert being issued.

      *Maybe* if an officer is missing, but I can't imagine that's one of the more likely threat scenarios.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Re "but it's so overbroad it's almost never going to be such a scenario"
      A bit like the old police scanner codes but with a real time map and only the riot, looting information presented.
      Riots that emerge out of the bad areas of a city and town.
      An active riot alert system allows good people to close up their business and get ready for a lot of looters.
      Good people can get their security, friends, family, kin ready for looters and riots.
      A nice GUI that shows more alerts in real time. Project that loss
  • DO. NOT. WANT! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    How about an app for when real people are in trouble?

  • Another set of alerts to disable.

  • Seriously, this guy is a complete tool and needs to be replaced by someone with a clue. GOP is running the show so they can pick their team, but Ajit is going to hurt them in the long run with his terrible choices.
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:00PM (#55772135)
    e.g. something to rile up people and maybe get some more "tough on crime" legislation. I can't think of any other reason to do this. This is not information the public needs to know on a real time basis.
  • by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:06PM (#55772175)

    BLUE ALERT: Officer has spotted a black man failing to indicate a right turn for at least 3 seconds before starting the maneuver. All residents are advised to remain indoors and definitely do not come out and record the shooting and post to social media.

  • This should be fun (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:11PM (#55772209)

    'Blue Alerts' To Warn You When Local Police Are In Danger

    Now we'll all get pestered whenever someone points a camera at the police.

  • 1) I have no idea what they are hoping people do with that information. So the result will be random at best.
    2) It seems like a way to crowd source mobs to attack the police.
    3) It's the kind of feedback criminals can use to infer where the police are focused.
    4) It's also a method by which criminals can cause an event to distract the police or upset the systemic responses of police.
    5) It provides a signal for people to come an watch / video - actually attracting innocent by-standers.
    6) If the system is
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Once one part of local gov can send out a message to all phones so can another part of gov.
      Wait for the daily party political messages. Good news about local law changes. Good news on how local government is helping people in the community.
      • Or just a ticker at the bottom of your screen like every single time cable companies renegotiate with content providers....for every partisan issue.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's pretty obvious what the people are supposed to do with this information. People should feel fear. They should also empathize with the police officer(s) in danger and be reminded of the police force's dedication to protecting and serving. There is no "actionable item" for a civilian beyond feeling these emotions.

      At best, the potential abuses you outlined exist out of ignorance. At worst, they are features of the platform meant to put police officers in harm's way to justify the ongoing deterioration of

      • you should come to Chicago, and watch the police beat up random businessmen and bar maids for jollies, or grab an attractive woman and search her thouroughly and slap her around a bit and then claim she was suspected of being a whore, deal some drugs pilfered from the evidence room (grab some cash from there too), maybe empty a gun magazine into an unarmed darkie or two ....yeah serve and protect and living the cop life.

  • ... will take this as authorization to shoot on site.

    I am licensed to carry in Texas and I'm always armed (concealed) because I am a wildlife photographer.

    I have trained to use only while peeing down both legs from fear of dying.

    OTOH, I train with Ramboweenies who are looking for any excuse to kill someone.

    Here's their chance.

    • I'll bite.

      You're carrying concealed because you are a wildlife photographer? Are you really that worried about the wildlife seeing you're armed and shooting first?

      Where I live, if you want to take photos of wildlife and feel the need to pack heat, you just do open carry. Usually of a rifle....

      • I'll see your bite and raise you some common sense.

        The wildlife I photograph lives on a river running through a populated area.

        Homeless people and transits and tourists are part of the landscape.

        I'm loaded (see what I did there) down with equipment already and a rifle doesn't add value like a CM9 does.

        Thanks for playing.

  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:14PM (#55772237) Journal
    If a city wants to track crime then put that free data to good use and create a useful app for good people.

    Buy up an entire towns worth of data on every person, home, crime and layer it.
    Not just the open free city data, all the pay to view private sector data that is collected on crime.
    Get all the data on crime, generations of criminals, insurance costs, rent costs, number of people sharing a home. All the hidden statistics that really show what a part of the USA is really like over the decades.
    Layer the numbers, crimes over an interactive real time map.
    Then FOIA the Blue Alert event code and layer that on top.

    Sell a demographics app to warn people from outside the city, the better parts of a town that they are entering a bad part of the town.
    A nice friendly bright normal map GUI in the safe areas.

    The more darker, gloomy colors with voice and GUI when entering an area that should always be avoided. A final apex predator warning for the no-go area parts of a city.
  • ,,, when Republicans or Democrats (respectively) are alleged to have grabbed a pussy.

  • Amber and silver alerts involve people who pose little or no threat to the general population. Blue alerts involve people who have already proven to be a danger to law enforcement. Stare at that creepy guy in the next car who matches the description in the text message and he will think nothing of blowing your head off if he feels threatened.

    Yeah. Great idea.

  • by Gerald Butler ( 3528265 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:54PM (#55772537)

    Will they send "Black & Blue" Alerts whenever the police are beating the shit out of someone who is subdued? Will they send "Black & Red" Alerts whenever the cops unload their magazines into unarmed suspects? Will they send "Yellow & Blue" Alerts when they Tazer grandmothers? Will they send "Spotted Alerts" whenever they shoot someones dog? Will they send "White" Alerts when they shoot babies in their crib during SWAT home invasions? Just wondering.

  • This from the same police that wanted apco 25 encrypted audio so we couldnâ(TM)t know what was going on in their world? Really?

  • by joe_frisch ( 1366229 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:58PM (#55772911)

    First, sending alerts to people who do not need to take immediate specific action will cause many to turn off alerts entirely. I was woken by one of the large scale Amber alerts - about a child kidnapped 300 MILES from my house. So I've turned off all the alerts that I can.

    Secondly, there is no specific action for people to take when police are in distress. I can't imagine that the police want a bunch of armed citizens with no situational awareness converging on the site of some emergency. Seems like that will make almost any situation worse.

    Finally, while I believe that most police do a good service to the community, I do not seem them as being unusually noble or risk-taking. Firemen, pilots, and roofers and many others are also exposed to danger while serving the community. Why not an "asphalt alert" when a roofer falls and is injured?

  • Ow!! My ears. The current test alerts are so loud that I grab the remote to mute the TV. What about alert saturation? Ho-hum, not another one? Who cares?
  • by RonVNX ( 55322 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @11:15PM (#55773261)

    Policeman doesn't even crack the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the USA. What's next, Tree Service worker in danger alerts?

  • People, this warning system is for you and me.
    What do police do when protecting their own?
    Pretty much anything. Think mama bear and her cubs.
    This is common in the mammalian family.
    Do you want to be anywhere near mama bear?
    No. Be thankful for the warning.

  • by rossz ( 67331 ) <> on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @11:58PM (#55773487) Homepage Journal

    Since the police have no legal duty to protect my ass, why should I care if they are in danger? Am I supposed to grab a gun and run to their rescue - probably getting shot by cops in the process since they such scared little girls who like to shoot people?

  • people will avoid " blue alert " areas like the plague.

    Because, like the plague, Death awaits you there.

    Police are trigger happy at their best, shoot-first-ask-questions-later types at their worst. Can you guess which personality type you're likely to run into when they're under duress ?

    Sorry you're in trouble, but due to the behavior of some ( as you call it ) " bad apples ", you are on your own.

    You want my help ? Start treating non-LE types as human beings and we'll talk about it.

    Until then, good luck.

  • by RubberDogBone ( 851604 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @03:27AM (#55774137)

    I used to listen to a police scanner a lot. I mean, a LOT lot. Had radios at home, in my car, and even a handheld to keep me tuned in even on the toilet. No I didn't have a girlfriend at the time, how did you possibly guess? Geez. Mindreaders.

    Anyway, the thing with scanners is you know what the hell is happening, to an extent, as soon as the police do. It can drive spikes in blood pressure listening to a traffic stop turn into a shootout, etc etc. And I had issues with that and the fact the the number one rule, as such, about listening to scanner stuff is never ever never ever never go to the scenes of what you hear. Stay the hell out of it.

    Eventually, the local PD moved to a trunked radio system and none of my radios could hear them. A girlfriend model was acquired and it didn't like listening to police radios either. So I quit. I have no clue what my local PD is doing and I don't care.

    I do not need or want shit alerts showing up to tell me they ran out of dougnuts or some bullshit deemed a police emergency. If they have an emergency, fuck it, they have mutual aid agreements with ALL the adjacent police agencies. They can call up those folks and get trained, real cops to come help. Do that thing. Don't try to get amateurs into the act. The Pros are bad enough,

Real computer scientists don't comment their code. The identifiers are so long they can't afford the disk space.