NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), the state’s lead law enforcement agency, can issue different alerts to raise the public awareness of the most serious of cases—including Blue Alerts.

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.”

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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.

TBI issued two Blue Alerts on June 28. The first Blue Alert was for Samuel Quinton Edwards, 34, who was accused of shooting a Hendersonville police officer Monday night during a police chase. On the same day, Kentucky State Police located Edwards near Louisville. Following a police chase and shootout, Edwards was pronounced dead.

The second alert was for BJ Brown, the 32-year-old accused of shooting an Erin police officer during a traffic stop Monday night. Brown was located and taken into custody early Wednesday morning.

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TBI reported duplicate Blue Alert notifications were issued early Wednesday morning for Erin shooting suspect BJ Brown even though the initial mobile alert was sent Tuesday evening.

To learn about all the different types of alerts the TBI can issue, and the criteria for each, click here.