Harrison To Launch New Community Alert System

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Harrison police will use the new My Community Alert system to notify residents of emergencies and other vital information via text message. Photo Credit: The Daily Voice File Photo

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Harrison will be implementing a new community alert system that will allow police and other officials to notify residents in the event of an emergency.

The My Community Alert service will send out text messages and emails when police believe that residents need to be aware of an event or occurrence. Police Chief Anthony Marraccini said that the alert could be used in situations such as last week, when there was a fugitive on the loose in Purchase.

"We had a State Police helicopter, road closed, a number of police agencies in town, and we did get some inquiry as to notifying the community," Marraccini said.

The town does have a robocall service to alert residents. One was issued late last Wednesday during the incident in Purchase, but many residents did not receive it. Marraccini said that with all the new technology available, the robocalls are almost an antiquated system.

"We just don't find that that effective or easy to use for these type of purposes," he said.

My Community Alert will allow officials to send attachments along with alert text messages, including photos, videos and documents. If police are looking for a lost child or person of interest, their photograph can be quickly distributed to the community to aid in the search. The system can also be used to notify people about community events such as fireworks or a parade.

Marraccini said that the system can also be customized to target specific recipients and meet the needs of the town. For instance, when there was a power outage on Metro-North recently, officials would have been able to alert commuters about delays and congestion.

"If there's something that affects the Purchase area, we can just target that area. If there's somebody that wants alerts for the entire town, we can give people alerts for the entire town," he said."God forbid we had a school emergency, we can target parents and people that have kids in the school."

Harrison will be the first community in Westchester to use the My Community Alert system. The system will cost $15,000 a year and will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2014.

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