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City: Change CODE Red contract

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- City officials asked members of the Dougherty County Commission to consider amending an agreement between the two governments to accommodate a crime awareness alert system.

Currently, the Albany City Commission and the Dougherty County Commission have a joint agreement to fund CODE Red, an alert system that allows County Emergency Management Director James Carswell to send out warnings via telephone messages to homes in the danger zone.

The proposal Monday from Albany City Manager James Taylor, City Commissioner Dorothy Hubbard and Deputy EMA Director Jim Vaught, is to bump up the contract so that the city can notify residents in neighborhoods where crime is occurring.

According to Vaught, the system works a lot like a cell phone plan. The city and county initially agreed on a contracted plan that allows for unlimited weather alerts during severe weather and 100,000 minutes to be used for anything deemed a public safety hazard or emergency.

"Those minutes were for situations like if there was an escaped inmate or maybe some kind of chemical spill, we could notify residents in the affected neighborhoods," Vaught said. "But we found out that we didn't come anywhere close to using all of those minutes."

So, the plan changed to one that still had the unlimited weather alerts, but cut the other "anytime" minutes to 1,000.

City officials now want to amend the agreement to go back to the 100,000 minutes so that they can send out alerts to neighborhoods where burglaries, robberies and other priority 1 crimes have been committed.

"What I am hearing is that crime is everyone's issue and no matter the age or income it disturbs us all," said Hubbard, who is running for mayor.

Going up to 100,000 minutes would cost the city an additional $12,000 per year, Vaught said.

According to data he collected, the APD responded to more than 102,000 priority 1 & 2 calls during calendar year 2010. Using those numbers, if 1 percent of the calls are deemed to require public notification it would be roughly three alerts per day for 100 registered users or 54,750 minutes each year.