NEWBERRY — After the recent success social media played in apprehending fugitives during a manhunt, the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office is asking Newberry residents to sign up for Nixle.
Prior to the manhunt for four Tennessee teen fugitives, around 2,400 people had signed on to Nixle — which is a free service — to receive either email or text message alerts from the sheriff’s office.
After the manhunt, membership increased to 2,884 people. For perspective, Newberry County has approximately 33,000 residents, so there is growth potential for the program.
The sheriff’s office can participate in it at a much lower expense than a reverse 911 system.
“Reverse 911 is costly and is a recurring cost and includes monthly phone calls, a maintenance fee and charges for each number called,” Sheriff Lee Foster said. “Over time it adds up, so we felt like Nixle was a better option for our county.”
Unlike reverse 911, Nixle is a user sign-up system, so the sheriff’s office needs a hand from the public.
At www.nixle.com, community members can sign up for email alerts and/or text message alerts.
The Newberry system also is used to notify about road closings, controlled burns, and widespread power outages among other things. The service is free for the public though standard data and messaging rates do apply in terms of the text messages. The sheriff’s office opted out of advanced features such as video messaging to keep costs down.
Newberry enthusiasts or Newberry natives who have moved away can use the sheriff office address at 520 Wilson Road, Newberry SC 29108 to request Nixle alerts from the area to stay in the know.
The vice versa is true for Newberry residents, who can input an address to request Nixle reports from any police agency nationwide who uses Nixle.
“With Nixle, the community receives the same updates as the media receives via press release,” Foster said.”We try to get alerts out as quickly as we possibly can and the system is linked to Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes if we are out in the field, like we were at Keitt’s Crossroads, it can be hard to get a data stream due to signal reception. In those instances we send a deputy back to the office to input a Nixle alert.”
Once a month the sheriff’s office posts to Facebook encouraging community members to join Nixle. Deputies also explain about Nixle when they speak to civic groups or do community presentations.
Nixle members also can opt in for severe weather alerts at www.nixle.com.