What is a Blue Alert? Some in Phoenix baffled by emergency alert

On Sept. 16, a Blue Alert was sent to the mobile devices of various Valley residents, causing confusion amongst some as to what the alert actually meant.

The alert was sent in the aftermath of an apparent ambush involving an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper in Phoenix. A 17-year-old suspect was taken into custody, but troopers were still searching for the driver.

The alert merely read, "Blue Alert Warning in this area until 11:38PM UMST Monitor Radio or TV," with the title "Public Safety Alert."

DPS offers definition of Blue Alert

A photo showing a Blue Alert that was sent to a person's iOS device on September 17, 2020

According to DPS' website, the Blue Alert is one of three alerts in their alert system, and it is meant to provide " immediate information to the public through issuing and coordinating alerts using various resources following a violent attack upon a law enforcement officer."

According to the Blue Alert section of the DPS website, specific criteria have been established, under Arizona law, for the alert's activation. The criteria include:

  1. Death, serious, or life-threatening injury to a law enforcement officer.
  2. Suspect poses an imminent threat to the public or other officers.
  3. Suspect is at large in a vehicle.
  4. The vehicle license plate number or detailed description of the vehicle exists.

Authorities in Arizona can issue a Blue Alert via the Emergency Alert System, Wireless Emergency Alert, ADOT's freeway message boards, the DPS alerts website, the DPS app for Apple and Android, and via social media, text and e-mail.

Blue Alert is not just issued in Arizona. There have been documented instances of a Blue Alert being issued in recent years in Alabama, CaliforniaTennessee, and Texas.