Why you got an unusually long, somewhat confusing phone alert about an injured Denver police officer

A suspect is still out there.

A screenshot of an emergency alert sent Wednesday, Dec. 18, in Denver. (Francie Swidler/CPR News)

A screenshot of an emergency alert sent Wednesday, Dec. 18, in Denver. (Francie Swidler/CPR News)

The Colorado Bureau of Investigations issued a statewide alert Wednesday, which you probably noticed when your cell phone buzzed and beeped at about 1 p.m.

The alert led with the fact of an injured police officer but the point is that the injured officer — a Denver Police Department detective — was shot by someone who has not been found and arrested. The incident occurred in Arvada about four hours before the alert was pushed to Coloradans’ phones, and was reported by several local news outlets.

Arvada Police Det. David Snelling said officers there received a call at 8:37 a.m. on Wednesday about a robbery at a Circle K gas station near 80th Avenue and Kipling Street. While officers were on their way to the scene, they learned a person, later identified as an off-duty Denver detective with 14 years on the force, was injured. Both of his arms were hurt, Denver Police Chief Pazen said. DPD did not release the detective’s name.

Pazen said the detective “is doing well” after being taken Denver Health Medical Center. A Denver Health doctor said the detective is in fair condition and will likely return home Wednesday night.

If you thought the alert looked longer than usual, that’s because it was.

A brand new, nationwide emergency alert system happened to be rolled out at 10:45 a.m. Mountain Time Wednesday that allows for more characters than usual, according to Susan Medina, spokesperson for the Colorado Bureau of Investigations. Complaints from law enforcement officials, who thought missing children notifications or “Amber alerts” were too short and vague, prompted the new system.

“We were probably one of the first in the nation to use (the new system),” Medina said.

The changeover may have been why some people got the alert and some did not, she said, but the system is not perfect. Sometimes certain cellular companies fare better than others.

It takes time to vet “blue alerts.”

CBI goes through a vetting process before issuing any statewide SOS — in this case, a “blue alert,” which is an emergency pertaining to law enforcement. The Arvada police department requested the alert and the bureau approved it based on undisclosed specifics of the investigation.

“So the timing between the incident and the alert may seem lengthy but the reality is there’s a lot of work that goes into it.” Medina said.

Blue alerts are relatively new. Coloradans have only seen two ever in the cell phone age.

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