Lee Sheriff's Office joins Nixle bulletin service

LEESBURG -- In an effort to keep residents informed about emergencies, the Lee County Sheriff's Office joined a free communications service also used by the Albany Police Department.

"The Nixle Community Information Service allows us to create and publish messages to be delivered to subscribed residents instantly via cell phone text message and or email," said sheriff's office Capt. Jeffery Kirt. "Notifications can also be accessed online at Nixle's website nixle.com."

Registration is required at the website to have messages sent to cell phones. Go to the website, type in a zip code such as Lee County's 31763 and community messages from law enforcement will appear. The current messages from Lee County deputies say that a man reported missing on January 5 was found.

"I don't know if it was the Nixle message," Kirt said, "but an elderly person was reported missing at 4:27 p.m. and found at 5:49 p.m."

The system allows law enforcement to easily put out bulletins on missing children, vehicle crashes that tie up traffic and community news. The service is free to law enforcement and costs the cell phone owner the same as a text message from any other source.

"I found it going through some of our police publications," Kirt said. "I thought it would be use full so I brought it to Sheriff (Reggie Rachals and we got it."

The Albany Police Department got with the program almost three years ago when Phyllis Banks, police spokeswoman, heard about it at a police seminar.

Albany police put bulletins on suspects they are searching for and about community meetings such as a Neighborhood Watch fair on the Nixle system. Recently an SUV that was connected to a murder was found because a resident saw the bulletin on Nixle.

"We have about 1,000 subscribers," Banks said. "It gives us another way to fight crime. People can see the alerts and then call crime stoppers or the APD."