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January 16, 2014

Jeffersonville mayor eyes Code Red

Emergency notification system alerts residents of potential danger

JEFFERSONVILLE — Who ordered the Code Red?

Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore hasn’t ordered it yet, but he would certainly support the implementation of a new emergency notification system in the city, according to a city-issued press release.

“The new system will give us a valuable tool to better communicate with the residents when facing emergency situations,” Moore said in the release. “It seems having an adequate emergency notification system is an important step in protecting the public.”

Code Red’s notification system has already been implemented in Clarksville and in parts of Louisville. The system provides participants with alerts via text message, phone call, email and Facebook message to announce threats to public health and safety. Situations like severe weather, drinking water contamination, utility outages and terrorist threats could all be cause for utilizing Code Red, according to the press release.

Moore wants the Jeffersonville City Council to fund the implementation of Code Red using Local Option Income Tax, or LOIT, funds. The system is estimated to cost between $26,000 and $36,000 per year, according to the press release.

Moore acknowledged that the main challenge to implementing Code Red is getting residents and others who travel to Jeffersonville regularly to sign up for it. Moore said he would present Code Red at local schools.

The town of Clarksville announced the implementation of Code Red in June. Clarksville received a discount by paying for three years of service up front for a total cost of about $42,500. Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer estimates that between 30 percent and 40 percent of Clarksville residents are Code Red participants.

The town used several means to get residents to sign up for Code Red alerts when the system was implemented, including newspaper advertisements, Facebook posts, messages on the town’s website and on municipal bills, Palmer said.

“It’s worked out real well,” Palmer said. “We’ve got a real positive attitude from the community, those who are using it, and it’s just good to have as a backup system just in case there is that crazy warning that we need to put out.”

In addition to calling for Code Red’s implementation, Moore also is calling for the creation of a Department of Risk and Safety Management, which would be headed by Safety Director Amir Mousavi. The creation of the new department would not add any additional costs for the city, Moore explained, but would allow the city to become eligible for some grants for which it is currently not.

“There are potentially some Homeland Security grants that may be available that we can work closely with fire, EMS and police for overall coordination of efforts and disaster preparedness inside the community,” Mousavi said. “Because we don’t have a centralized mission to do disaster planning within the city, there are some other grants out there that we could miss out on, potentially.”

Mousavi added that because the office does not exist, the responsibility for dealing with safety risks is  spread out among several departments. The new office would review contracts to ensure that local, state and federal safety requirements are met, Mousavi said.

Jeffersonville City Council President Dennis Julius said he supported the implementation of the mayor’s proposals.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Julius said, “especially if it will get us some grants.”

Julius said he and other members of the city council had attended webinars on the Code Red system.

“It looked like a good program,” he said.

Julius said that LOIT funds would be an appropriate source of funding for the Code Red system, but said he’d like to speak with Clark County Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Les Kavanaugh to see if there are opportunities for cooperation between the city and the agency.

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