Letter to the editor: CodeRED system misused in Beacon Falls

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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.

Josh Morgan

Beacon Falls

2 COMMENTS

  1. When I received the Code Red phone call about our town budget, my first, split-second reaction was akin to that of writer Josh Morgan; I was cynical and annoyed (sorry, Sue). But in the next second I remembered that Code Red, in addition to emergency alerts, is also used as a means of communication to the town regarding issues impacting us, and I welcomed the fact that our citizenry was made aware of the vote; at least no one can say that they didn’t know about it. Although the call lasted 90 seconds, I only listened long enough to get the gist of the message; it did not disrupt my day.
    I went to their website, and it seems to me that CodeRed is a third party notification system available to basically anybody, such as colleges for campus events notifications. The service name of CodeRed implies it is for emergencies, but it can be useful as a means to provide information to a community, such as a vote. Of course, the danger is that over-use will result in people ignoring it altogether. I wonder if there is an alternate, non-emergency system Beacon Falls could utilize for general communication. After all, our nation was not won by apathy; it is only through an informed and involved citizenry that we will remain strong.
    Mr. Morgan is correct; everyone should visit the town website on a regular basis. In addition, for in-depth coverage of both state and local budget and other news, I strongly recommend http://www.beaconfallsgop.org.

  2. First Selectman Susan Cable uses every means of communication to reach out to the community to come out and vote. Code Red is one of those means. Unfortunately only 823 registered voters came out for yesterday’s town budget referendum, even though many were informed. It’s a sad commentary on the community overall. And even sadder, now essential services will be cut from the budget going forward.

    Those in the community who complain about our local government and services are the people who do the least. They don’t vote and they don’t volunteer on commissions, committees and boards. Those of us that do have had it with the negative comments and lack of “doing their civic duty “ by voting.

    The budget is in a critical state — Code Red is a good medium to reach out to the community and vote on important matters, the town budget being one.