At 3:20 p.m. on Monday afternoon, May 2, my cell phone rang. The caller ID stated it was the CodeRED emergency notification system calling. I dropped what I was doing at work to answer the phone. Was there a fire? A missing person? A fugitive on the loose?
No. It was First Selectman Susan Cable reminding me to vote on May 3 for the special budget referendum in Beacon Falls. The call lasted for nearly 90 seconds and told me where to vote and some pertinent facts about the town budget and Region 16 school budget.
This information is all well and good, but I disagree with using the CodeRED service to relay this message. The CodeRED system, for those that do not know, is like a reverse 911 system. Residents can sign up for this emergency communication service by registering their home phone and cell phones online. Town officials record a message and the system will automatically contact everyone on the list in a matter of minutes. The system is vital in contacting residents in a timely manner if there was an emergency.
Unfortunately, Cable isn’t using the system properly. The call I received on May 2 was not the first time CodeRED was misused in Beacon Falls by First Selectman Cable. Some of the “typical CodeRED emergency alert system uses” listed on the CodeRED website include notifications for: fires, floods, missing children, school lockdowns, drinking water contamination, sexual predator alerts and bomb threats.
Using CodeRED to contact residents about a budget vote is not only a misuse of the system’s designed intention, but I believe it is also irresponsible. If Cable wants to keep the residents informed, she could post updates on the town’s website, submit information to the two newspapers that cover Beacon Falls, the Citizen’s News and the Republican-American, or create a distribution list to send out a blast email to residents who sign-up.
Please do not use the CodeRED emergency notification system to contact me about a budget vote.