Code RED Alerts Cause Some Confusion for People

Some people are confused over an alert sent on their cell phones.

People in Moorhead were told to seek shelter in their basements during the police standoff in Fargo and did not receive the all–clear early morning hours.

The Code RED alert system is a subscription service where locals can sign up and receive public safety alerts.

While some are glad to have the service, others are asking if the system is being used correctly.

An automated message from the Code RED system included the phrase:  “For the Fargo Police Department, if you are receiving this message, please remain in your residence and go to your basement.”

This was the message you heard if you were inside a three–mile radius of last night’s standoff.

It is a part of the Red River Regional Dispatch Center’s Code RED service that sends out alerts about events that may threaten public safety.

“The Code RED system is a system that’s a high–speed callback service so people who sign up for it … they are in the system,” said dispatch director Mary Phillippi.

While some in Moorhead are blaming the dispatch center for the alerts, the center can only act on information provided by authorities on scene.

“They can call and do a certain radius or whatever is requested, so in any incident you can do a half–mile or three miles, depending on what it is,” said Phillippi.

And it was the warning radius chosen by Fargo Police on scene that has caused the most concern.

“I think there will be some discussions about how you do that because you can do radiuses that are smaller than three miles far out.  It could have been a more tight radius,” said Moorhead mayor Del Rae Williams.

But there are others that are glad they received the alert.

“My husband and I felt very good about that … that we were alerted to what was going on and just to be cautious about where we were … and it was just good,” said Moorhead resident Joy Wohlrabe.

Mayor Williams also said she would like leaders from Fargo and Moorhead police departments to review their alerts to make sure they are better suited for each situation.

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