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In wake of shootings, Watertown lawmakers want emergency alert system

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 5:33 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - In light of recent Watertown shootings, including one that left 2 people dead, city officials want a way to alert people when there’s an emergency.

A phone notification to keep people safe. That’s what Watertown officials like City Council Member Lisa Ruggiero want after two city shootings in the last two weeks.

“To alert people to stay away from the area, or stay inside. I think that this would be a welcome service to the community,” she said.

There are a couple of options on the table. One is to expand a notification system the city implemented last year called Rave Alert, originally meant to provide pandemic updates through text and email.

With the federal government’s okay, Watertown could also use the system to alert people about emergencies like active shootings.

Mayor Jeff Smith says the notification would go to anyone in a given area, no opt-in needed.

“This is not something that people have to sign up for. This would be an automatic alert,” said Smith.

Council Member Ryan Henry-Wilkinson says it’s the city’s responsibility to make people’s safety top priority.

“We want to make sure that we’re putting out complete and accurate information to the public so that they can be safe, and also feel safe,” he said.

The city is exploring another option called reverse 911. It would also send an automatic alert to people’s phones.

The difference: it would have to go through Jefferson County dispatch.

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