TBI apologizes, looking into numerous Blue Alert notifications

Posted at 6:36 PM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 19:36:37-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Some people are still trying to figure out what kind of alert was blared from their phones on Tuesday.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued two separate Blue Alerts during manhunts where the suspect in different incidents shot and injured a police officer.

But the way the alerts came out caused a lot of confusion.

Many said they thought they were receiving Amber Alerts; others said they were just flat-out confused.

Some said they were glad they are getting alerts, but also said they want TBI to make some adjustments to the system.

"We think it’s very important to provide these alerts, so we don't want people to have to feel like they have to turn off their phones. So, we are looking for ways we can improve the situation," said TBI Spokesperson Susan Niland.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said the recent two suspects met the criteria for TBI to issue Blue Alerts.

Established in 2011, less than half a dozen Blue Alerts have been issued by the TBI.

"We only pushed out one alert for each of these two Blue Alerts. We understand that people got multiple, multiple calls, and some people got none," Niland said.

Blue Alerts assist in catching violent criminals who kill or seriously injure law enforcement officers in the line of duty, or to aid in locating a missing officer where foul play is involved.

The program uses cell phones and other statewide infrastructure of the existing Amber Alert system to push out critical information.

The problem with Tuesday's alerts was some people say they came blaring at different times of the night.

"I was at my church's Vacation Bible School when the alert went off. It was just before the services started. We weren't doing anything and my husband and I both got it at the same time and we're like, 'what is this?'" Jessica Davidson said.

TBI said there are different factors that could affect when a person gets a phone alert, and how often.

Some of these are: who your provider is, whether a phone is turned off, activation of airplane mode or traveling from one cell service tower to another.

"There are many variables that can go into whether you get these alerts; we certainly apologize for anybody who was awakened or annoyed. We get that, and we’re looking into it — as soon as we were made aware yesterday that people were getting multiple alerts," Niland said.

The public just hopes all the bugs are fixed before TBI issues a Blue Alert again.

"I think the system just needs to be streamlined. Like, I just think there needs to be a more efficient way to get the news out versus using something that you use for an Amber Alert. I understand the urgency, which is — so that's still a factor; it still works — but it just created more confusion than urgency, if that makes sense," Davidson said.

The TBI has more information about the Blue Alert system on its website.