Colonel Eric T. Olson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, announces the Patrol has expanded its recently upgraded Missouri AMBER Alert System to include Blue Alerts. A Blue Alert provides law enforcement with an early warning of threats against police officers and aids in the apprehension of suspects who have killed or seriously injured an officer. Under state law, the Patrol has the responsibility for initiating Blue Alerts as set forth in Section 650.520 RSMo. when:
· 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.
Missouri’s improved notification system streamlined the process to get alerts to the public faster. The new system includes wireless emergency alerts, automated social media alerts, and a public website, www.moalerts.mo.gov, which provides the latest information on AMBER Alerts and Blue Alerts active in Missouri at any time.
The new Patrol alert system directly utilizes FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) to deliver message to cellular carriers.
Each Blue Alert will include photos and descriptions of any suspects and vehicles if available. The new system’s automatic alert updates are designed to reduce the possibility that outdated information will continue to be shared on social media. This system also will automatically update the Patrol’s GHQ Twitter account @MSHPTrooperGHQ.
Members of the media and public who have subscribed to emailed AMBER Alerts will already receive Blue Alerts. Subscribers receive immediate notification any time details contained within an active alert are updated. Anyone interested may subscribe to Mo-Alerts by going to www.moalerts.mo.gov, selecting “Subscribe to Mo-Alerts” on the left side of the webpage, entering their email address, and clicking “Subscribe.” Subscribers will receive a verification email and must click on the link provided to complete the process.
Many factors affect the speed at which these alerts reach the public, including cellular phone carriers, broadcaster capabilities, and administrative protocols. The AMBER Alert system upgrade in December 2019 has proven to be a valuable resource and helped reduce the critical minutes between when an AMBER Alert is initiated and when the media and public are notified. Adding Blue Alerts to the improved system will provide the same benefits. Streamlining this process and continuously providing up-to-the-minute information increases the likelihood a suspect or suspect vehicle will be located and increases the safety of Missouri’s law enforcement officers. (To date, the Patrol has never received a request to initiate a Blue Alert.)
The system has been fully tested internally and on FEMA’s IPAWS test servers. The Patrol continually looks for ways to improve the overall alert notification process.