Johnson Co. sheriff looks at high-tech alert system

A new alert system can warn residents of weather or crime on phones or computer devices.
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A local sheriff is pushing for a new emergency alert system that would call your phone with warnings - for anything from tornadoes to dangerous criminals on the loose.

When severe weather is heading our way, meteorologists can often predict it. But not all weather is perfectly predictable and knowing when crime will strike is next to impossible.

Just ask Harsh Naik.

"The guy tried to come out whoever's car it was to see what was going on and they tried to shoot at him," Naik said.

It was all happening right in front of Naik's house and he didn't know anything about it until it was over.

"Our thoughts are what better ways to reach out and touch 144,000 people than to come up with an emergency mass notification system where we can reach out and touch those people with just the touch of a button?" said Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox.

Cox says the program would not only tap into cell phones and landlines, but also email, Facebook and Twitter.

"The days are over of police driving around and notifying people on their intercom system. There is better ways of doing it," Cox said.

But, as with many good ideas, there's a catch. The system costs money - and not just a little bit.

Cox says it will cost about $25,000-30,000 for the system. It's more than his department can pay for a system law enforcement and utility companies throughout the county could benefit from.

But with budgets for city and county governments already tight, funding could come in the form of asking taxpayers to help foot the bill.

"Instead of paying a security system for a house, I'd rather pay for this system, pay extra tax and be more secure," Naik said.

Bartholomew County implemented a similar system a few months ago. Their first use was during the blizzard on December 26.