County implementing emergency mass notification system

Alisa Boswell

Whether it’s the weather, or something else, law enforcement wants citizens to know about danger more quickly.

The city of Portales and Roosevelt County have joined forces to purchase the Code Red and Code Red Weather Warning systems from the Emergency Communications Network.

According to Portales Emergency Management Director Keith Wattenbarger, the county and city will be paying $36,500 to use the Code Red system for three years.

“The Code Red system was different (from previous notification systems). The added unique component was the weather system,” Wattenbarger said. “We needed something in our area that could be useful for our area but not necessarily delegate more tasks to personnel or use more resources.”

The Code Red system automatically sends emergency notifications to city and county officials by phone, text or email.

“Communities using Code Red are able to warn the community very rapidly, whether for a lost child or something else,” said Emergency Communications Network representative Jim Erickson. “The weather warning system gets messages out very promptly. And it does it automatically so there’s no one who has to get that set up and send it out.”

County and city officials will also have the benefit of being able to send emergency messages to the computer system through the use of text messaging and phone calls.

Erickson said the weather warning system reads the National Weather Service grids and sends automated phone messages to individuals living in areas in the path of dangerous weather. He said the system will only warn individuals who are within the area of danger.

“The main thing we want to do with mass notification is not send out a blanket of phone calls,” Wattenbarger said, “but to give people good information and prevent them from being delayed or inconvenienced in ways they don’t have to be.”

Wattenbarger said addresses and phone numbers already in the dispatch computer system will be placed into the Code Red automated warning system, but Roosevelt County residents can register phone numbers, emails and addresses with the system on the City of Portales website and the Roosevelt County website.

He said another upgrade the Portales Police Department is putting into action is a new work area for dispatchers. The dispatch area at the department will be moved to a new, larger location in the police department building, allowing the dispatch department to be a safer and more efficient work area.

Dispatch will be moved next to the office of Wattenbarger, who is a trained dispatch officer.

Wattenbarger said the department hopes to sign the contract for the Code Red system within the next two days and hopes to have it active within 10 days. Remodeling of the new dispatch area will also begin immediately.