NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Among the various alerts from law enforcement that you may notice flashing across your cellphone screen or appearing in your social media feeds is the Blue Alert.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) has issued a Blue Alert for Samuel Quinton Edwards. The 34-year-old man is accused of shooting a Hendersonville police officer Monday night during a police chase. He was later killed by police in Kentucky.

A second alert, issued Tuesday evening, is for BJ Brown. The 32-year-old is accused of shooting an Erin police officer during a traffic stop Monday night.

What is a Blue Alert?

TBI began issuing Blue Alerts in July 2011. The purpose of the system—established by Tennessee Code (TCA 38-6-122)—is to provide “rapid dissemination of information to the public to assist in apprehending violent criminals who kill or seriously injure law enforcement officers in the line of duty or to aid in locating a missing officer where foul play is involved.”

The Blue Alert program uses the statewide infrastructure of America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) Alert system.

Who issues a Blue Alert?

The alerts are issued by the staff in TBI’s Criminal Intelligence Unit. According to TBI’s website, when the department receives a request from a law enforcement agency that death or serious injury of a law enforcement officer has occurred, administrators will ensure that the Blue Alert criteria have been met, then proceed to issue the alert.

Criteria for Blue Alerts

All the following criteria must be met for TBI to activate a Blue Alert:

  • A sworn law enforcement officer is killed, sustains life-threatening injuries or the officer is missing in the line of duty under circumstances warranting concern for the law enforcement officer’s safety
  • The suspect(s) pose(s) an imminent threat to public safety and law enforcement personnel
  • A description of the offender or vehicle is available for statewide broadcast to the public and law enforcement 911 centers.
  • Prior to activation, if the suspect(s) is/are identified, the requesting agency will immediately: Place the suspect in the temporary felon file in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Obtain felony warrants as soon as possible or within 24 hours and enter the offender into NCIC.
  • The head of any Tennessee law enforcement agency, Colonel of the Highway Patrol, Chief, Sheriff, or their designee of the investigating law enforcement agency of jurisdiction requests the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to activate the Blue Alert system.

The Blue Alert for Samuel Q. Edwards was issued on Tuesday, June 28. He is wanted by the Metro Nashville Police Department and the TBI for Attempted Criminal Homicide and Evading Arrest by Motor Vehicle.

Samuel Q. Edwards
Samuel Q. Edwards (Courtesy: MNPD)

Edwards is believed to be armed with two guns. If you see him, you are asked to call 911 immediately.

There are currently 37 states with protocols to transmit Blue Alerts via TV, radio, cellphone, wireless device, highway message signs and other devices to “aid in the apprehension of violent criminals who have killed, or seriously injured an officer in the line of duty,” according to the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services.