A glitch last week showed that a mass notification system often used to alert Johnson Countians to emergencies isn’t perfect.
Now it’s up to officials who operate the system —
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
— to make sure they responsibly use it in the future.
On Saturday night, a message went out beginning with these attention-getting words: “This is the Leawood Police Department....” It was aimed at people in the southern part of the city, telling them that police were looking for a domestic violence suspect.
However, the message actually was sent to about 125,000 phones in the county, causing some needless concern for residents who lived far from the search area.
Properly so, the Leawood Police Department later apologized “for the ill-advised alert and the unnecessary contact of people who should not have received the alert and anyone else otherwise inconvenienced by it.”
Despite this unfortunate experience, the automated voice mail system has its benefits. It can be used to quickly contact many people, giving them valuable information that includes law enforcement activities and water main breaks.
This is the kind of positive public service that Johnson Countians expect from local governments.
Leawood police said they hoped residents would “continue to have confidence in the system.” They should, because accidents can happen.
Still, the recent incident brought attention and awareness of an important source of information for residents and businesses.
The operators of NotifyJoCo must redouble their efforts to properly use this powerful communications tool.