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June 8, 2013

Clarksville implements Code Red

Emergency notification system alerts community to severe weather, man-made threats

CLARKSVILLE — On March 2, 2012, as a severe storm system bore down on Southern Indiana and tornadoes struck sites in Henryville, Marysville and Pekin, parents concerned with the safety of their children gathered outside of Clarksville school buildings. But with the children safe inside, it was those parents that put themselves at risk.

Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer hopes that with the implementation of Code Red, the town’s residents will make informed decisions in the face of immediate threats to the public welfare.

The Clarksville Town Council acknowledged the implementation of Code Red at its regular meeting this week. Implemented in response to the Henryville disaster, Code Red will allow the town to notify its residents in a variety of emergency situations.

“It was a learning lesson. We started looking for something that we could put in place, not only for tornadoes but any type of disaster or something of another nature,” Palmer said. “It could be a gas leak, a man loose in the community with a gun, flooding, any type of disaster or serious threat to the community.”

Clarksville residents are encouraged by Palmer to opt in to the program. Links to the Code Red website for Clarksville can be found on the town’s website, the Clarksville Police Department’s website and the CPD Facebook page.

Residents can elect to receive messages from Code Red via text message, email or calls to their cell phones or land lines. Registration is free and takes less than a minute to complete, Palmer said.

The Code Red website asks for the address to be monitored, along with the name and phone number of each enrollee. Participants can opt to receive any or all of the following: emergency notifications, general notifications and severe weather warnings. The system uses the town’s Geographic Information System to determine eligibility, as only those living within town limits can successfully enroll.

The town paid for its three-year contract with Code Red with Local Option Income Tax funds, which are designated for use by the town’s police and fire departments. The total cost for the program over three years is $42,500, which includes a discount for paying for the entire contract up front.

Enrollment numbers are strong so far, but still total less than 25 percent of the town’s residents, Palmer said. He hopes to get more Clarksville residents signed up through an awareness campaign that will include invitations to enroll on town sewer bills, tax bills and parks fliers. Palmer recognizes that there will be some who don’t get on board immediately.

“I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of people sign up for it until you get that scary moment,” Palmer admitted. “I hate to say that, but unfortunately, everybody has to get burned before they learn."

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• Clarksville Police Department — clarksvillepolice.com

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