The legislature established the Blue Alert in 2015 as a tool to help locate suspects when a local, state or federal officer is killed or seriously wounded in the line of duty. There have been no activations of the system since its inception.
Blue Alerts are distributed in several ways.
- Email, text message and/or fax to Minnesota media and subscribers to the Minnesota Crime Alert Network.
- A recorded Emergency Alert System message.
- Electronic highway message signs regionally or statewide, depending on information known to law enforcement at the time.
- A Wireless Emergency Alert on cell phones.
During a Blue Alert activation, anyone who sees a vehicle or person(s) matching the information provided in the Alert is urged to dial 911 as soon as it is safe to do so. Members of the public should not approach or attempt to apprehend the subject of a Blue Alert.
Criteria for Activating a Blue Alert
To activate a Blue Alert, the following criteria must be met.
- A law enforcement officer must have been killed or seriously wounded by an offender(s) or is missing while in the line of duty under circumstances evidencing concern for the law enforcement officer’s safety.
- The investigating law enforcement agency must determine that the offender(s) poses a serious risk to the public or to other law enforcement officers and dissemination of available information to the public may help avert further harm or assist in the apprehension of the suspect.
- A description of the offender; their vehicle or other means of escape, including vehicle license plate or partial license plate, must be available to broadcast to the public.
- The lead investigating law enforcement agency of jurisdiction must request to issue the Blue Alert.
A Blue Alert may also be activated when there is a threat to cause death or serious injury to a law enforcement office and:
- The requesting agency confirms that the threat is imminent and credible, and
- At the time of the receipt of the threat there is a probable cause pick-up and arrest or active warrant, and
- Any suspect involved has not been apprehended, and
- There is sufficient descriptive information about the suspect, including any relevant vehicle and license tag information.
To activate the Blue Alert, the following steps must occur in this order:
- The lead investigating law enforcement agency of jurisdiction will call the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s (BCA) Operation Center, 651-793-7000, which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- A BCA Special Agent in Charge will work with the investigating agency to offer assistance, ensure the activation criteria have been met and determine if the alert will be sent and displayed regionally or statewide.
- The BCA will work with the investigating agency to prepare information for public release, including suspect and/or vehicle information, as well as agency contact information and will work to activate alert.
- The BCA will contact the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to develop the message content using the MnDOT approved template, which includes vehicle information, license plate number and other identifiers. MnDOT will display the message until the offender(s) is captured or as determined. The alert will be displayed on dynamic highway message signs on all requested highways unless a traffic emergency occurs, which requires a motorist safety message to be displayed. MN DOT also will record a Blue Alert message on the 511 system when the Blue Alert is activated.
- The same activation steps will be used if there is revised vehicle information or a broadcast area is changed.
- Once the BCA is notified that the offender(s) has been captured, the BCA will contact the appropriate parties to cancel the alert.
Each activation will be reviewed by a committee of state agency partners and law enforcement representatives to ensure that criteria and goals are met and that each activation took place in a timely fashion.