Mistaken “Blue Alert” seen (briefly) on I-5

The in basket: I was passing through Fife on I-5 at 8:30 a.m. on April 26 when the traffic suddenly slowed in all southbound lanes, the ones I was in. Nothing new there, I’m almost never on I-5 between Tacoma and Seattle when that doesn’t happen at least once.

The slow motion processional crawled beneath one of those overhead electronic signs that had just two words on it – Blue Alert. A short time later, traffic returned to normal speed.

I’m also used to seeing nothing on the roadside to explain the various slowdowns. If “Blue Alert” was intended to be an explanation, it was lost on me.

When I got home I asked Google what a Blue Alert is.

It said it is to  “help Law Enforcement speed the apprehension of violent criminals who kill or seriously injure local, state, or federal law enforcement officers.”

Whoa, I said to myself. What had happened? There was nothing on the news about an officer being killed or badly hurt.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for state highways, said, “Today’s blue alert message was posted in error. It was immediately removed, but apparently not quickly enough for you not to see it.”

I asked if it had ever been posted intentionally, and she said that would be better answered by the State Patrol.

Trooper Russ Winger, my contact for all thingsWSP, said RCW 10.108 authorized creation of “a voluntary, cooperative system to quickly disseminate crucial information through broadcasters, cable systems, the Department of Transportation, local, state and tribal (police) and other interested participants to enhance the public’s ability to assist law enforcement  in the apprehension of person(s) suspected of killing or seriously injuring law enforcement officers. There is no requirement to send a Blue Alert and the decision to activate a Blue Alert rests solely with the investigating agency or its designee.”

He said it appears that no actual valid Blue Alert activation for its intended purpose has occurred here yet. “This in no way means (to us) it is not a valuable asset for Law Enforcement to have at disposal if and when the need arises,” he added.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

Enter the word yellow here: