Albertville Police Launch New Message Alert System

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ALBERTVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- Residents who signed up for automated alerts from the Albertville Police Department received an advisory to avoid parts of Highway 431 Saturday afternoon.

The following message arrived in their e-mail or came to their phone in a text message, sent by police dispatch:

     Advisory: AVOID US HWY 431 N NEAR NOLAN NEWMAN MOTORS due to traffic
     accident with injuries.
     Hi ________,
     Albertville PD advises you to AVOID US HWY 431 N NEAR NOLAN NEWMAN MOTORS
     due to current traffic congestion.
     The accident will cause traffic backups and detours for the next 30-45 minutes.
     For full details, view this message on the web.

Police sent the alert using a service called Nixle, which is used by nearly 5,000 government agencies and organizations nationwide.

Albertville's assistant police chief said they set up the service about a month ago.

"Just kind of eased into it," Jamie Smith said.

"It's basically a mass communications way that we can relay information out to the public,  primarily done through email and text messages."

So far, they've sent four alerts, and all were road related.

Smith said they issued one Saturday since officers were going to be out at the wreck for a while.

"Just help with the traffic flow, people can get the information that there is a traffic problem, something as simple as that."

The primary purpose for this program is for more dangerous situations that can have a wide impact throughout Albertville.

"In case of emergency, bad weather, snow--anything like that--it's just a way we can relay information out," Smith said.

"It's kind of a common sense thing after the tornadoes a couple years ago," he said in reference to the April 24, 2010 storms that tore through the town.

Nixle can also send out alerts for residents to be on the lookout for certain people, such as a missing child or a wanted criminal.

It is a free service already in use my many other law enforcement agencies across the Tennessee Valley.

You can see if the service is available in your area and sign up at the Nixle website.