System to alert communities about active shooting now in place

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BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Six hundred sixty-six laws went into effect in Texas on Sept. 1, some of them grabbing more headlines than others.

Buried amidst the Democratic walkout over the voting bill, and the threats of lawsuits surrounding the six-week abortion bill, state legislators agreed unanimously to mandate a DPS emergency message system to warn against active shooters.

House Bill 103 (HB 103) allows local police departments to request DPS send out an emergency alert to cell phones in their jurisdiction in the event of an active shooting.

“Whenever there is an active shooter situation, police will send out the request and people will receive an alert like an amber alert,” said Martin Sandoval, the Brownsville Police Department public information officer.

The active-shooter emergency alert will only notify the surrounding areas of the shooting, and will only be used for specific circumstances.

“It’s not just one localized incident,” said Sandoval. It’s something that is happening within a couple of blocks then we fear that the public isn’t safe, their safety is in jeopardy.”

The active shooting alert system is brand new and hasn’t been used yet in the area. Sandoval wants to assure members of the community if they get the notification, it’s the real deal.

“Many people will try and call the police department to see if it’s real,” Sandoval said. “But we suggest to not call the police department as we are trying to take care of the situation.”

Sandoval said that if people do get the notification of an active shooting in their area, they need to take it seriously. It could just save their lives.

“Do not deny this. Do not dismiss this as ‘oh it’s just something,” he said.

“It’s important to think clearly and quickly,” said Sandoval. “Take the time to read it, if you notice that you’re within the area or it is affecting your local area, stay away from that area.”

If you are in the area that is described in the alert, Sandoval suggested people try and hide.

“It’s not a joke and it’s not intended to be a joke. People’s lives are at stake,” he said.

The alerts will go out as push notifications, text messages, or even notifications from local tv and radio stations.

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