Shelby County looks into county-wide emergency communication system

A shooting leaves a women in critical condition.
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 10:13 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It’s been nearly three weeks since a gunman terrorized the City of Memphis in an hours-long crime spree.

With only the media and social channels to spread the word, officials are now searching for more effective options.

Because of that rampage, Shelby County Emergency Management and Homeland Security are discussing creating a county-wide emergency alert system, ensuring all residents are informed about severe and dangerous situations.

“In any emergency, situation communication is very important,” said Shelby County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Deputy Administrator Charles Newell. “As a matter fact, it’s vital.”

Charles Newell with Shelby County Emergency Management and Homeland Security says that day also had officials wondering, what’s the best way to alert Shelby County residents of a serious threat?

“Because of that person’s erratic behavior that night, because he was mobile, because he was all over the City of Memphis and ended up going to Southaven,,” said Newell. “It would be beneficial to the citizens if they had, if you had a heads up as you where this person may be.”

Newell says his department is in the beginning stages of discussing whether they could create a mass communication system and how it would work.

He also says his office has not narrowed down how they would get an emergency message out to the people.

But they are looking at other cities, like St. Louis, Charlotte, and others, to see if they have a system in place and how it all works.

We did our own searching and found that both St. Louis and Charlotte do have emergency alert systems.

St. Louis has a city-wide alert system called “NotifySTL.”

Charlotte uses “CharMeck Alerts” for anyone living within the county the city is in.

Both have a simple sign-up process that can be accessed online.

They’re both run by Everbridge, a “critical communication” company partnering with public authorities to help in case of critical events.

Newell could not say when an alert system would launch but said if things move forward, those living in Shelby County could expect a new emergency alert system sooner rather than later.

“Citizen safety is the utmost importance to us, and if the citizens aren’t safe, it’s not a good thing for Memphis-Shelby County,” said Newell.

We’ll keep you posted if discussions move any further.

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