‘Blue Alert’ created after Pelham Officer’s murder

‘Blue Alert’ created after Pelham Officer’s murder
Blue Alert for Kimberly officer killed on I-65 (Source: ALEA)

KIMBERLY, AL (WBRC) - For the third time in state history, a Blue Alert was issued Tuesday night for the man suspected of killing a Kimberly Police Officer.

On the same interstate nine years earlier, another police officer was killed in the line of duty, highlighting the need for some type of alert system.

"There was an immediate outcry of people saying we want to have more information out there so if either an attack or a murder like that occurs on law enforcement, that we have a chance to immediately apprehend whoever did it," said Senator Cam Ward, who co-sponsored the bill creating the Blue Alert system after Officer Phillip Davis' murder.

"Immediately the idea came about of what can we do to increase the ability to apprehend those who harm our officers."

A Blue Alert works like an Amber Alert.

After requested by a law enforcement agency and approved by ALEA, the message is shared through the Emergency Alert System, pushed to cell phones and digital message boards on highways.

It is issued when a suspect is wanted for killing or nearly killing a law enforcement officer in the line of duty or when a law enforcement officers becomes missing while on duty. The alert is only issued if the suspect is believed to be a threat to the public and if there is enough information to share with the public that would help in finding the suspect.

The Blue Alert sent Wednesday morning around 1:00 read, "BLUE ALERT - Black 4 door 2003 BMW 325 ISA, Alabama tag 2495AS2 and missing a bumper." It was later updated to include the suspect's name, Preston Johnson, and his photo.

Johnson was arrested shortly after the alert was sent and has been charged with capital murder.

"If it helps just capture one person who committed a crime against our law enforcement, it's worth it," said Senator Ward.

The alert was also used in November 2019 when Lowndes County Sheriff "Big John" Williams was murdered.

In 2019 in Alabama, six police officers, including APD Officer William Buechner and Sheriff Williams, were shot and killed. A seventh officer was killed in a crash responding to a call.

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