TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Florida Blue Alert sounded loudly across phones in the state on Thursday after a 26-year-old police officer was shot in the head in Daytona Beach. As of June 26, the suspect was caught, reportedly found in an Atlanta-area tree house.
At the time, authorities were trying to locate the man who did the shooting. Police identified him as 29-year-old Othal Wallace.
A multi-agency manhunt for Wallace was underway, which is why the Blue Alert rang out.
Florida alert systems
Florida has three different alert systems that it can activate in emergencies or during critical events. While AMBER Alerts are focused on missing or endangered children and Silver Alerts help rescue missing adults with memory problems, Blue Alerts are activated when a member of law enforcement is hurt, killed, or missing while on duty.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Blue Alert system was started in Florida in 2011. Using technology from the AMBER Alert Plan, the public can be notified of critical information when an officer is killed or injured, and there’s a threat to the public or other officers.
Working with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ Florida Highway Patrol and the Florida Department of Transportation, FDLE can push alerts across the state on TV, radio, and electronic highway signs.
So how does the Blue Alert system work?
In order for a Blue Alert to go active, FDLE says a sworn law enforcement officer must be killed, sustain a life-threatening injury, or go missing in the line of duty with circumstances that warrant concern for their safety.
The suspect or suspects have to pose an imminent threat to public safety and other law enforcement personnel, and a description of the offender or their vehicle must be available to broadcast statewide for the public and law enforcement 911 centers.
When the alerts are active, it means that Florida’s law enforcement community is doing its best to handle a threat that puts the public, and its defenders, at risk.
Active Blue Alert
Thankfully, the Daytona Beach officer is out of surgery, and improving, but he’s still in critical condition.
Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young announced earlier Saturday morning that Wallace was found and arrested near Atlanta.
Law enforcement officials say he was found hiding in a treehouse on a property affiliated with an organization called NFAC.