ST. LOUIS — Missouri Highway Patrol officials say a new system notifying the public when a police officer is injured or killed wasn’t used after a recent shooting of two St. Louis officers.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the “Blue Alert” law allowing the agency to inform the public of suspect descriptions took effect Aug. 28, nearly a week before the officers were shot and injured in downtown St. Louis.
The agency told the St. Louis Police Department about the suspect and left it to their discretion to issue an alert, said Capt. John Hotz, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol.
“We want to leave that up to the agency that’s actually conducting the investigation,” he said.
When police departments want to issue a Blue Alert, they fill out a form that Highway Patrol handles. The agency then provides suspect information that is supposed to appear on highway message boards. TV and radio stations are supposed to broadcast the information as part of their emergency alert systems and cellphone users should receive notifications, similar to the Amber Alert system for missing children.
“A ‘Blue Alert’ was not issued as detectives knew the identity of the suspect,” said Schron Jackson, a spokeswoman for the Police Department. “The department is still working to establish protocol as it relates to the new ‘Blue Alert’ law.”
Hotz said the Highway Patrol doesn’t want to jeopardize an investigation by sending out an alert to the public. He said there are times when investigators don’t want to issue suspect descriptions, such as when a suspect doesn’t know they’re being pursued.
Police said Devonte Morgan and another suspect were arrested the same day as the shooting. Morgan was charged Saturday in the shooting but the second suspect hasn’t been charged.
The two officers have since been released from the hospital.
In addition to the officers, resident Tamara Collier was critically injured after one of the bullets went into her home and hit her. Jackson said Collier is being treated in the hospital and is in critical condition.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com