Legislature approves 'Blue Alert' system to catch violent criminals


by Steve Ryan


Posted on April 19, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 31 at 9:26 AM

PHOENIX -- More than two decades after a Valley woman’s husband was killed in the line of duty, the Arizona Legislature has approved a new measure aimed at protecting law enforcement officers across the state.

The new Arizona Blue Alert system will use an infrastructure already in place. If an officer is injured or killed and the suspect is on the run, digital signs will broadcast the vehicle information and physical description.

Arizona is the 19th state to create a blue alert system.

Jan Blaser-Upchurch had been leading the charge to protect officers since her husband, John Blaser, became the first DPS line supervisor killed while on duty. He was struck by a drunk driver on Aug. 31, 1990.

"Even after all these years, it still brings emotions, for sure," she said. "You think that he was 36 years old and we had just been married three years. Our life was beginning and then his was suddenly taken."

Her hard work has helped lead to the Arizona Blue Alert, a sort of Amber Alert for cops.

"There can be a cohesive communication network so that we can identify who those perpetrators are that take off after they’ve injured or killed a law enforcement (officer)," Blaser-Upchurch said. "It’s an easy mechanism."

It’s also a free mechanism, thanks to a collaboration spearheaded by the Department of Public Safety that will not cost taxpayers any money.

"They’re violent offenders that, if they harm or kill an officer in the line of duty, they aren’t going to think twice about killing civilians," she said. "So we need to protect our community."