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What is a Blue Alert and Why Should You Care?

If you live in the United States, you are probably familiar with the different types of emergency alerts that can pop up on your phone, TV, or radio. You may have heard of Amber Alerts, which notify the public of missing or abducted children, or Silver Alerts, which do the same for elderly or disabled people. You may also know about weather alerts, such as tornado warnings or flash flood advisories, that warn you of imminent natural disasters.

But have you ever heard of a Blue Alert? If not, you are not alone. Many people are unaware of this relatively new type of alert that is designed to protect law enforcement officers and the public from violent criminals. In this blog post, we will explain what a Blue Alert is, when and how it is issued, and what you should do if you receive one.

What is a Blue Alert?

A Blue Alert is a statewide alert sent after a police officer is killed, seriously injured, or missing after an interaction with a suspect who is on the run. It is up to the individual American states to create a Blue Alert system. As of 2020, 35 states have implemented or are working on implementing Blue Alert plans.

The purpose of a Blue Alert is to quickly disseminate information about the suspect, such as their description, vehicle, license plate number, and any other relevant details, to the public and the media. This way, the public can help law enforcement locate and apprehend the suspect, and also be aware of the potential danger in their area.

A Blue Alert is similar to an Amber Alert, but it is not part of the same system. Amber Alerts are issued by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, while Blue Alerts are issued by the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office, which oversees the National Blue Alert Network.

When and How is a Blue Alert Issued?

A Blue Alert is issued when certain criteria are met, which may vary slightly by state. Generally, the criteria are:

  • An officer is killed, seriously injured, or missing in connection with their official duties;
  • The suspect poses an imminent threat to public safety or other law enforcement personnel;
  • There is sufficient information available to identify the suspect or their vehicle; and
  • The law enforcement agency requests the activation of the Blue Alert.

The activation process of a Blue Alert is similar to that of an Amber Alert. The law enforcement agency that is investigating the incident contacts the state’s Blue Alert coordinator, who then verifies the information and authorizes the alert. The alert is then broadcasted through various channels, such as the Emergency Alert System, the Wireless Emergency Alert System, highway signs, social media, and local media outlets.

The Blue Alert remains active until the suspect is captured, the threat is neutralized, or the alert is canceled by the issuing agency.

What Should You Do If You Receive a Blue Alert?

If you receive a Blue Alert on your phone, TV, or radio, you should pay attention to the information provided and follow any instructions given by the authorities. You should also:

  • Stay alert and vigilant. Be on the lookout for the suspect or their vehicle, and report any sightings or tips to 911 or the designated hotline.
  • Avoid the area where the incident occurred or where the suspect may be located. Do not interfere with the ongoing investigation or put yourself in harm’s way.
  • Share the alert with others. Spread the word about the Blue Alert to your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, especially if they live or work in the affected area.
  • Show your support for law enforcement. Express your gratitude and appreciation for the officers who risk their lives to protect and serve the public.


Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about Blue Alerts:

  • Q: How often are Blue Alerts issued?
  • A: Blue Alerts are issued very rarely, only when there is a serious and imminent threat to law enforcement and public safety. According to the COPS Office, only 34 Blue Alerts have been issued nationwide since 2008.
  • Q: How can I opt out of receiving Blue Alerts on my phone?
  • A: Blue Alerts are part of the Wireless Emergency Alert System, which allows the government to send critical information to the public via cell phones. You can opt out of receiving Blue Alerts by changing the settings on your phone. However, you may not be able to opt out of receiving other types of alerts, such as Presidential Alerts or Imminent Threat Alerts.
  • Q: What is the difference between a Blue Alert and a BOLO (Be On the Lookout)?
  • A: A BOLO is a general term used by law enforcement to describe a bulletin or notice that contains information about a wanted or missing person, a stolen or suspicious vehicle, or any other relevant information. A BOLO can be issued for any reason and at any time, and it is not necessarily broadcasted to the public. A Blue Alert is a specific type of BOLO that is issued only when a law enforcement officer is killed, seriously injured, or missing, and the suspect is still at large and poses a threat to the public. A Blue Alert is always broadcasted to the public through various channels.


A Blue Alert is a valuable tool that can help law enforcement catch dangerous criminals and protect the public from harm. By being informed and aware of what a Blue Alert is and what to do if you receive one, you can play an important role in supporting law enforcement and enhancing public safety.

I hope you found this blog post helpful and informative. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. Thank you for reading!

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