Douglas County has plans to refine an emergency alert system in order to better serve the public and let residents know when something potentially dangerous is happening near them. It is the same alert system that sends out Amber Alerts and weather notifications, and in the next year or so other alerts could be showing up on phones.
About a week ago, police set up a perimeter in Tiffany Schiemann neighborhood, looking for a suspect armed with a gun. "I got anxious because it's in my backyard and it's so different when it's in your backyard... things like that."
Neighborhood residents turned to Twitter for information on what was going on. "The first thing I did was look at Twitter, the Omaha Scanner. We looked it up and we were scared because we were getting live updates," Schiemann told 6 News.
During the search, Omaha Scanner, a group of private citizens, tweeted out their support for a system to alert the public to when there's danger.
Douglas County already has a wireless emergency alert system, it's just not used often, but Paul Johnson with Douglas County Emergency Management tells 6 News that's expected to change in 2019. "We've talked about this at length, and situation where you have an active shooter, escapee, this type of thing... Those templates are in the works."
Johnson said they are working to refine the system so that it is more user friendly. "I think you will see it used more in the future. There are big changes coming to the system in 2019 that make it a much more useful product for law enforcement."
The sending of alerts is at the discretion of the responding agency.