LAKEWOOD, Colo (KDVR) — A suspect is in custody after reportedly hitting and killing a Colorado parole officer on Thursday.
The incident launched a Blue Alert manhunt that ended with the suspect’s arrest hours later. Justin Andrew Kula, 41, was taken into custody in the crash, according to the Colorado Springs Police Department.
That alert was sent out by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which investigative analyst Audrey Simkins said made the decision after establishing the incident met the criteria for a Blue Alert.
“We know it needs to happen immediately,” Simkins said. “So we drop everything and work to get that alert ready to push out.”
But unlike Amber Alerts, Simkins said Blue Alerts are sent out quite infrequently.
Since the Colorado state legislature passed the Blue Alert law back in 2011, only four alerts have been sent out, including Thursday’s.
Other alerts were sent out in 2014, 2015 and 2019, when a Denver police officer was shot while disrupting a robbery in Arvada. All four have resulted in the apprehension of suspects, according to Simkins.
“We do have a 100% success rate,” she said. “So usually within hours, but definitely within days, we’re making the recovery of that individual and taking them into custody and providing a safer community.”
Simkins said only Blue Alerts and Amber Alerts are approved at the national level to be distributed through a wireless emergency alert.
“There’s a reason that law enforcement is seeking the use of this tool, and it’s really in hopes of finding the individuals associated with these cases, in the most serious of cases,” she said. “So, you’re not going to see it every day, but when you do, we hope the public is aware of what’s going on, and can provide assistance, and be our eyes and ears out there.”