What is a “Blue Alert?”

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. -- A Blue Alert was issued throughout Alabama on Saturday night in connection with the shooting death of Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams. Many WHNT News 19 viewers asked: "What is a Blue Alert?"

Madison County Sheriff's Office PIO Brent Patterson says we don't see or hear of Blue Alerts often.

"Any time an officer is hurt, killed, injured, and we know that whoever did this, or the suspect, poses a huge risk for the public, we will broadcast it by every available means that we have," said Patterson.

That's the purpose of the Blue Alert: to provide immediate information to the public about violent suspects following a violent attack on law enforcement.

"You don't ever want to think about an officer being hurt or killed," said Patterson. "Of course, when it does happen, you've got information you have to pass out."

Utilizing the notification system mirrors the AMBER Alert and the Silver Alert. "We utilize the AMBER Alert to reach out to law enforcement, news stations, radio stations, anything that we can get the word out, we will utilize," says Patterson. "Any and every available resource to find these people... same thing goes for the Blue Alert."

The Madison County Sheriff's Office says when you hear a Blue Alert, it's important to be very observant. "Listen to your radios, listen to your TVs, watch your TVs, know your surroundings," says Patterson. "If you get vehicle information, be very observant."

The National Blue Alert System started in May 2008 in Florida. Alabama was the third state to utilize the program, starting on April 16, 2010. 34 states use the Blue Alert, and seven are in the process of getting the Blue Alert Bill passed.

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