Editor’s note: This story has been updated with info about the most recent Blue Alert prior to this week, which was in 2019.
DENVER (KDVR) — On Thursday just before 6:30 p.m., cell phones across Colorado started buzzing with information regarding a “Blue Alert.” Many are familiar with an Amber Alert or even a Medina Alert, but what exactly constitutes a Blue Alert?
The public safety alert warned residents that a Blue Alert was activated in the Colorado Springs/El Paso County area. People were told to be on the lookout for 41-year-old Justin Kula.
FOX31 learned that Kula allegedly killed a parole officer during a hit-and-run crash and injured another parole officer.
What does a Blue Alert mean?
Blue Alerts are not commonly sent out to the community, but the alert has been in effect since 2011. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 11-1036 into law and created the Blue Alert Program.
The program works in cooperation with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, local law enforcement and media to warn the community of the imminent danger posed by a suspect or suspects who killed or seriously injured a peace officer.
Hence, the alert was issued when Kula allegedly crashed into the parole officers and fled the scene.
According to CBI, Colorado is the 13th state to implement the Blue Alert Program.
What is the purpose of a Blue Alert?
Public safety alerts that are broadcast on cell phones can capture the attention of millions. CBI explained the specific purpose of the Blue Alert:
- To rapidly disseminate information about a suspect(s) to law enforcement agencies and the public when a peace officer has been killed or received a life-threatening injury
- To gain the assistance of thousands of television viewers, radio listeners and partner organizations throughout the coverage area
- A warning the suspect(s) are dangerous and members of the public should not attempt to apprehend the suspect(s)
Only a handful of Blue Alerts have been issued since the bill was passed. The last Blue Alerts were issued in 2014, 2015 and 2019. In 2019, an off-duty detective with the Denver Police Department was shot while trying to intervene in a robbery.
A Blue Alert is just one of six alerts that can be broadcast statewide during emergencies.