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City apologizes for overnight RoCo Alerts calls, text messages

SALISBURY — City officials issued an apology after RoCo Alerts, a notification system to alert city and county residents about emergencies and other events, sent out multiple calls and text messages about the same incident early Saturday.

RoCo Alerts users were notified about Gabriel Wyck, a missing 16-year old who presumably ran away from home earlier in the day. The city decided to sent the notice though it was nearly 1 a.m.

Generally, the system will send a one-time text alert, but early Saturday many residents received multiple telephone calls and text messages about Wyck’s disappearance.

“For this, we apologize,” a city of Salisbury statement said. “Yes, it was frustrating. Yes, people were awakened from their sleep. And yes, we are implementing plans to keep this from happening again, unless it is a major emergency event, such as a tornado or another life-safety situation.”

The statement added the communications department will evaluate the time of day with the immediacy of the event.

RoCo Alerts allows for 55,000 residents to be alerted for events, such as severe weather, missing elderly residents, chemical spills and lost children by landline telephone, cellphones and emails.

Cellphone and email addresses are sent alerts if the resident opts in. Landline telephone numbers are included from the telephone company as a reverse 911 call.

The city stated alerts are not sent on a regular basis and they are generally sent to a geographically-specific area.

“Please know that we take the safety of our residents very seriously and do all we can to inform you when it is warranted,” the city said. “A missing child alert is always warranted.”

Wyck was later located in another state.

To combine their mass notification system, Salisbury and Rowan County began the RoCo Alerts partnership in January. Previously, Rowan County used a program called Code Red and Salisbury used a program called Nixle.

To sign up or change subscription to RoCo Alerts, visit rowancountync.gov/rocoalerts.



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