Emergency alerts used in new ways following New York bombing

An example of a wireless emergency alert (KXAN Photo)
An example of a wireless emergency alert (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Monday’s notification in New York is believed to be the first time authorities used the “wireless emergency alert” system to search for a terror suspect.

The next time an emergency happens in Texas, you could be getting a similar alert. Cedar Park uses a system alerting people connected to the CAPCOG (Capital Area Council of Governments) for many situations. They can use their “code-red” system to let people know trash will be picked up at a different time. Or it can be used in more serious situations.

“If there is a barricaded subject in a house maybe armed with a weapon and he’s refusing to come out, we would utilize it to notify the surrounding citizens, to notify them to stay in their homes so they can stay safe,” Cedar Park communications supervisor Michael Brimble said.

In the past you may have seen an alert for a missing child or when sever weather strikes.

It’s similar to what made phones go off in New York. More than 1,200 agencies across the country are allowed by FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to send you messages.

In 2006 Congress passed the WARN Act – or the Warning, Alert and Response Network Act, The program launched in 2012. T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint all agreed to take part. In the settings on your phone you can opt out of Amber Alerts and alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life. But you cannot opt out of an alert issued by the President.

Cedar Park uses a system called code red to get your attention in the event of an emergency, which could include a missing child or when severe weather strikes.

For more information on the wireless emergency alert system, visit the FCC’s website here.

In Austin, APD works with other departments in the area to keep track of threats. The Austin Regional Intelligence Center was established five years ago to help prevent another terror attack in this country.

The center connects 17 law enforcement agencies across Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties. It looks into suspicious activity that may have ties to terrorism. The division works with law enforcement up and down Interstate 35.

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