The LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department has announced that it will begin using a free notification service as early as next week to help keep residents informed of emergencies, road conditions, alerts, safety tips and more.
LaGrange County Chief Deputy Jeff Campos first heard about the service at a law enforcement conference several years ago. More area agencies began to use the service as it grew.
LaGrange County Communications Director Arron Knisley said that the department has been looking for a service to allow them to send out mass notifications easily, but the services were too costly. “The public notification through Nixle is free and at no cost to the county,” Knisley said.
Nixle.com is the company that runs the service through its website. Anyone can sign up for the service, but must do so through the website. The sheriff’s department and the communications center cannot register recipients.
The service is free, although users are cautioned that they may have text or data charges, depending on their carrier and text plans.
Knisley said that the county plans to use the service several times a week for a variety of notifications. When subscribing, users can opt for all notifications or only certain ones based on the level – Alert, Advisory or Community. Alert is the highest and could be used for urgent emergency information. Advisory could be for road conditions reports, missing person notifications, alerts on attempted abductions or other important information that needs to be broadcast quickly. Community would include safety tips or other non-emergency news the department wants to share.
The alerts can also be immediately added to Facebook or Twitter feeds.
Knisely noted that the department is working with the other area police departments and agencies, such as LaGrange County REMC, to help keep the public informed.
“I really encourage people to sign up,” Knisley said. One hope is that the service will help reduce unnecessary phone traffic to the communications center during events, such as power outages.
Nixle is a nationwide service, which allows users to sign up for notifications from anywhere in the U.S. It is also used by schools, community organizations and others who want to get information out to people.
Once a person registers online, they can set which areas based on zip codes they want to receive notifications from, as well as the level of the alert they want to receive. The system also sends the alerts to e-mail addresses.