Wednesday morning, phones across Tennessee blared a Blue Alert to warn the public about a Dickson County sheriff’s deputy who was shot and killed during a traffic alert and the suspect who was at large. While many are familiar with AMBER  and Silver alerts, the Blue Alert is a relatively new system.

While AMBER and Silver alerts deal with missing children and missing senior citizens respectively, the Blue Alert is designed to help authorities find violent criminals who kill or injure local, state or federal law enforcement officers.

The Blue Alert issued Wednesday was only the second one in the history of the program. 

TBI officials say they only have 90 characters for each alert to share the information they feel is most important. The alerts are meant to alert the public to connect with a new source or social media platforms for more information.

To issue a Blue Alert, a police agency’s situation has to meet these four criteria: 

  • An officer must have suffered a serious or life-threatening injury or have been killed.
  • The suspect is at large.
  • Police believe the suspect poses an imminent threat to the public or to law enforcement.
  • The agency must have a detailed description of the suspect and/or vehicle involved.

Blue Alerts are issued via mobile devices, media outlets and social media channels.