ST. LOUIS - Following the high-profile shootings of police officers Mike Flamion of Ballwin and Tom Lake of St. Louis, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens put pen to paper.
During a July 6 ceremony in St. Louis County, with both Flamion and Lake on hand, an emotional Greitens signed the state's new "Blue Alert" system into law.
"It is so important for us, like many other states have done, to do everything we can to protect our law enforcement on the street," the freshman Republican said at the time.
The system works a lot like the Amber Alert for missing or abducted children.
Information about a suspect or vehicle wanted in connection with assaulting a law enforcement officer in Missouri is sent out to the general public through text alerts, electronic billboards and the news media.
The whole idea, according to Greitens and supporters of the legislation, is to speed up the process of catching these suspects and bringing them to justice.
Greitens said, "Blue Alert is an important program that lets every law enforcement officer in the state of Missouri know that the community supports them and has their back."
But north of downtown St. Louis on Friday afternoon, two city police officers were shot and injured in the line of duty. And for several hours, two suspects were on the run before they were eventually captured and arrested.
All of it took place exactly five days after the Blue Alert system actually went into effect on August 28, yet no alert ever went out.
"With this being a few days old, we wanted to make sure they were aware of the alert and if there's anything we can do. At that time, they determined they did not want one issued," said Capt. John Hotz with Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Hotz said St. Louis Police turned down their offer to issue what would've likely been the state's first ever Blue Alert.
Turns out, one of the criteria for issuing an alert requires a request or approval from the law enforcement agency involved.
Hotz said without that approval, the highway patrol would be overstepping its boundaries.
"The last thing the patrol wants to do is to release information that's inadvertently going to hurt a criminal investigation," he said.
According to a spokeswoman for St. Louis Police, a Blue Alert was not issued because detectives were aware of the suspects wanted in connection to the officer shootings.
The department is currently still working to establish a protocol for Blue Alerts.
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