Understanding Blue Alerts
COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
A Blue Alert is a message sent to devices alerting residents about a person who either killed, seriously injured or could be a threat to any law enforcement officer.
The history of blue alerts dates back to 2014, when two New York City officers were killed in an ambush attack. Following the attack, the COPS, a component of the United States Department of Justice implemented the Blue Alert Act in 2016.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is in charge of putting out the alerts in the state.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the criteria required in order for a blue alert to be issued includes:
- A law enforcement officer is killed or seriously injured in the line of duty; or
- An officer is missing in connection with official duties; or
- There is an imminent and credible threat to kill or seriously injure a law enforcement officer; and
- There is actionable information known about a suspect for a public notification to be helpful to law enforcement; and
- The law enforcement agency involved requests or approves the alert being issued.
All law enforcement agencies are notified through an email, and the general public will receive the alert on their cellphones. Anyone who is in proximity to the area of the incident or investigation will receive the message. The Missouri Department of Transportation or the Missouri Lottery may also post the alert on billboards.
According to Eric Brown, the assistant director of MSHP, a Blue Alert is canceled after a suspect, or suspects are in custody, or when it is determined there is no longer a threat to law enforcement or the general public.
On Sunday, a Blue Alert was issued after Kenneth Simpson was suspected to have shot two police officers, and was not in custody at the time the alert was issued. This called for a blue alert because Simpson was considered a threat to the public.
One alert was issued in 2022. Sunday's alert was the first one this year.