Sarasota man spearheading ‘Blue Alert’ effort to protect lives of police officers

Photo courtesy Tom Berry
Photo courtesy Tom Berry

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Sarasota man was the creator of a warning system that will hopefully soon be as well-known as ‘Amber Alerts.’ He’s trying to save the lives of police officers.

Tom Berry is the founder of The National Blue Alert System. It’s an emergency notification system that alerts the public about assaults on police officers and credible threats against law enforcement.

Berry started it in Florida in 2008 and since then it has spread to 27 states and has reached the White House. In May, President Obama signed the National Blue Alert Act into law, which will help streamline the program so all the states that use The Blue Alert System can better communicate with one another.

“A lot of suspects have been going across state lines, and we want to be able to tell Georgia if something happened in Florida,” Berry explained.

Now that it has been signed into law, Berry is working with police departments across the country and with federal agencies to roll out the program. He’s also going to DC in the next few weeks to speak with officials at the Department of Justice about Blue Alert.

Berry says The Blue Alert System should be online across the country sometime in 2017, and he expects it will include emergency notifications on your phones, and messages on electronic billboards. Berry is also working with the FCC to see if Blue Alert notifications can be released on television and on the radio.

“It’s important just to get this word out to everybody,” he said.

Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino is a strong supporter of Blue Alert. In light of the recent police shootings, it’s vital to help protect officers.

“It’s the reality of what we’re dealing with in law enforcement, there are individuals that have always wanted to hurt police officers, we’re just seeing it a lot more now,” said DiPino.

“Anything that can help our officers be safer and be prepared for any type of an ambush attack, or any information that puts them in danger, I’m in support of,” the Chief added.

When a cop killer is on the run, it’s important to get that criminal off the streets quickly.

“If he’s willing to kill a badged, sworn officer, then he’ll be willing to kill a civilian if a civilian gets in his way,” said Berry.

“Officers are husbands, fathers, mothers, daughters, sons. And they have a family and nothing worse than a little kid finding out his daddy or his mommy is not coming home anymore,” Berry added.

Florida created a statewide Blue Alert notification system in 2011. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement offers more information here.

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