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Local News

Blue Alerts aim to protect cops, public

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Cellphones and other devices around Florida sounded off Tuesday night for a “Blue Alert” from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

In a cyber world of Amber, Grey, and Purple alerts, Blue is perhaps the lesser-known one — but not any less important.

“Blue Alert is designed to notify law enforcement and the public when a law enforcement officer has been seriously injured or killed during the line of duty, and the subject involved is still at large,” said Chad Brown, assistant Special Agent in Charge at FDLE in Tallahassee.

Last week’s Blue Alert was issued when a Taylor County deputy was shot and wounded, and the search began for a suspect identified as Gregory Ryan Miedema. The alert was canceled when Miedema was confirmed dead.

“FDLE receives the information through its Missing-Endangered Persons Clearing House, in conjunction with our intelligence unit,” Brown said. “And that information is then vetted out, and the decision is made to send out the Blue Alert. It hits the same resources that the Missing-Endangered Persons Unit uses for missing children.”

The alert also notifies the public to keep people safe during the search for the suspect – and asks for the public’s help in a limited way.

“Not for them to get involved, but for them to notify law enforcement so that they can provide a response to the information that’s been received,” said Brown. “And see if they can locate that person, and verify that they are either our target — or move on to the next lead.”

FDLE works with the state Department of Transportation and Florida Highway Patrol to send the alerts through the Emergency Alert System. They’re broadcast on television, radio, message signs along the state’s highways, and through cellphones and other personal devices.

But Brown says, in a perfect world, the Blue Alerts would continue to be few and far between.

“I would hope that the safety of law enforcement officers doing their jobs is paramount; we don’t want to have to issue these alerts,” said Brown. “We hope that our law enforcement partners out there are able to do their job without finding themselves in situations where this type of alert would need to be issued.”

While the emphasis is on Florida cases, Brown says the system can be extended to neighboring states if necessary to locate suspects in cop assaults.

“So, when there is information that leads us to believe that the subject is in another state, we would coordinate with that state’s alerting authority, in order to see if they have a reciprocal program and ask that they issue an alert there as well.”

Signing up your device to receive the Blue Alerts is free, just by visiting fdle.state.fl.us.