Push to educate public on Blue Alert

National Blue Alert System logo. (Logo courtesy: U.S. Department of Justice)
National Blue Alert System logo. (Logo courtesy: U.S. Department of Justice)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s similar to the Amber and Silver Alerts, but aimed at protecting police officers and the public if a suspect is on the loose. The Blue Alert has been in place since September.

The Department of Public Safety pushes the alert out if an officer is hurt or killed in the line on duty, and a suspect is on the run. Requirements would include a clear description, car information, suspect name or an imminent and credible threat.

“Anything we can do to increase the odds of catching that person as quickly as possible to safeguard the public is critical,” said Kevin Lawrence, executive director of Texas Municipal Police Association.

On Thanksgiving, a DPS trooper was shot and killed near Dallas and the suspect hadn’t been caught. It did’t take long for the Blue Alert to get plastered on highway signs, over phones and on social media.

“It may not be that every time the alert goes out we see dividends and we see results, but the fact of the matter is if it’s one case in 100,  if it’s one case in a 1,000 — that makes it worth the effort,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence works closely with Ray Hunt who is with the Police Officers Union in Houston.

“It’s a big morale booster for police whenever we know that our leaders support us,” Hunt said. “People who shoot at police are going to be the worst of the worst. They have nothing at that point to fear except death. And it’s very important that citizens and police officers know when we have a cop killer or a cop shooter out there on the streets.”

State lawmakers renewed their focus on police protection this last session, requiring the statewide alert system. Twenty-seven states are already using the Blue Alerts. The Federal Communications Commission is looking at making it easy and consistent across the country and is expected to vote on measures next week.

Right now, the only emergency alerts that are mandated to run are the presidential emergency message, and required monthly and weekly tests.

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