Utah will now issue a Blue Alert to warn the public about violent criminals who kill or seriously injure a law enforcement officer. The Blue Alert will notify law enforcement, media and the public by e-mail, text and electronic highway signs.
"We have learned from the AMBER Alert how the public can quickly provide important tips and save lives," says Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. "The Blue Alert will also protect the public and other officers."
Shurtleff was joined by Utah Department of Public Safety Commissioner Lance Davenport, Utah Chiefs of Police President Terry Keefe and Utah Sheriffs' Association President Dave Edmunds to launch the Blue Alert at the 2011 statewide AMBER Alert training.
"A suspect reckless enough to kill or hurt a police officer will also be clear threat to everyone else," adds Commissioner Davenport. "The Blue Alert should be taken very seriously."
Utah is now one of 10 states with an alert for fallen officers. Six more states have pending legislation for a Blue Alert. Keefe is also the Layton City police chief and he has been actively pursuing a Blue Alert program for Utah.
"Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line everyday," says Keefe. "The Blue Alert will quickly let law enforcement and the public know that an officer is down and a suspect is on the loose."
The Blue Alert is initiated solely by Utah law enforcement agencies and must meet the following criteria:
*Has a law enforcement officer been killed, seriously injured or assaulted with a deadly weapon by the suspect?
*Is the suspect an imminent threat to the public and other law enforcement personnel?
*Is information available for the public about the suspect, the suspect's vehicle and vehicle tag?
*Will public dissemination of available information help avert further harm or accelerate apprehension of the suspect?
"Our hope is that we will never have to issue a Blue Alert," says Summit County Sheriff David Edmunds. "However, we have to be prepared so we can quickly bring these very dangerous suspects to justice."
The Blue Alerts will be issued by law enforcement through Utah Criminal Justice Information System (UCJIS), the same network used for AMBER Alerts.
In addition the alert for notifying Utahns about missing persons is getting a name change. The Endangered Person Advisory will now be called the Endangered Missing Advisory. In 2005, Utah became one of the first states to develop an alert for cases that did not meet the strict criteria for an AMBER Alert. The advisory name is being changed so that most states will use the same name.
In March, the U.S. Department of Justice published the "Guide for Implementing or Enhancing an Endangered Missing Advisory" to help states develop their own plans for non-AMBER Alert cases. So far 39 states have formal plans for cases that do not fit the AMBER Alert criteria. A copy of the guide can be found here: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/232001.pdf.
During the past 6 years, Utah has issued 92 advisories for 100 people, including abducted adults and people without vital medications or suffering from Alzheimer's or other mental conditions. A total of 81 people were found safe and at least 17 were returned safely because of the advisory.
The Utah AMBER Alert Advisory Committee oversees and implements the AMBER Alert, Blue Alert and Endangered Missing Advisory programs for the state. The committee includes representatives from law enforcement, media, transportation and ordinary citizens interested in making our communities safer. More information can be found at www.amberalert.utah.gov.