The North Carolina Center for Missing Persons, which is overseen by the State Highway Patrol, has launched the N.C. Blue Alert system. The system is used to notify the public when any law enforcement officer in North Carolina has been violently attacked and a suspect is being sought.
State Highway Patrol telecommunicators will issue the alert along with descriptions of the suspect and the suspect’s mode of travel. The information will be broadcast on radio and television stations, Department of Transportation message boards on major highways and on terminals and monitors at all retail locations of the N.C. Education Lottery.
“This Blue Alert system is intended to aid in swiftly apprehending a dangerous suspect and doing so safely,” said Department of Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks. “I am delighted that we have this new system. It is an excellent way to ask for the public’s help in providing leads to help law enforcement locate the assailant, as well as keeping the public safe from danger.”
The Blue Alert system is a voluntary cooperative effort among North Carolina radio and television broadcasters, local and state law enforcement, the N.C. Department of Transportation, the N.C. Education Lottery and the N.C. Center for Missing Persons. The intent is to hinder the violator’s ability to flee the state, aid in a swift capture and eliminate the threat to the community and law enforcement personnel.
To initiate a Blue Alert, police departments, sheriffs’ offices and other law enforcement entities must have information that would assist in locating the suspect, such as a description of the suspect’s vehicle, complete or partial license plate information and a detailed description of the suspect. A Blue Alert may also be issued if a law enforcement officer is missing while on duty under circumstances warranting concern for the officer’s safety.
A law enforcement agency head with jurisdiction over an assault scene must determine that a suspect poses a threat to the public and other law enforcement personnel before requesting a Blue Alert. The N.C. Center for Missing Persons is the only agency that can activate a Blue Alert and will do so only at the request of an investigating law enforcement agency head. It is then the responsibility of the Center to determine whether there is sufficient identifying data to justify activation.
“We hope we never have to issue a Blue Alert,” said Col. Glenn McNeill, commander of the State Highway Patrol. “However, if we do, North Carolina has this new quick response system that, with tips from the public, will hopefully result in the assailant’s capture.”
Blue Alert began in 2015 as a nation-wide initiative and was named in honor of two New York City police detectives assassinated in 2014 while sitting in their patrol car.
The Blue Alert system is modeled after the AMBER and Silver Alert systems currently in place in every state. Twenty-seven states have implemented the Blue Alert program.
WTSB Radio AM1090 – FM105.5 and our sister station WMPM AM1270 are part of the statewide network of radio stations that will broadcast N.C. Blue Alerts.