Michigan’s New Public Threat Alert System Can Send Notifications To Your Phone, Interrupt Broadcasts

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iPhone. Creative Commons photo by Pablo Romeo.

Building upon the national success of the AMBER Alert system, the state of Michigan now has its own version for what state police call “public threats.”

Michigan’s new alert system can be used in cases where there is a public threat, which is defined as “a clear, present, persistent, ongoing and random threat to public safety. A public threat includes, but is not limited to, an act of terrorism, an unresolved mass shooting or an unresolved mass shooting spree.”

It works similar to how an AMBER Alert is issued. The Emergency Alert System can interrupt radio and television broadcasting in the affected region, and a “Wireless Emergency Alert” can also be issued through mobile carriers, which will appear on mobile devices similar to a 90-character text message.

“It is extremely important to make the public aware of a potentially life threatening situation, as accurately and quickly as possible, so our residents can stay out of harm’s way,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the Michigan State Police (MSP) in a statement. “Nearly everyone has access to a mobile phone, and unlike other emergency notifications, you do not have to opt-in to receive these important alerts.”

The system was created by Public Act 235 of 2016.

The Public Threat Alert System is activated by the Michigan State Police Operations Unit upon request of law enforcement, when the following criteria are met:

• A specific and identifiable threat exists that is not a natural disaster.
• The threat is immediate and ongoing.
• The threat impacts the safety and welfare of the general public.
• The suspect(s) have not been apprehended and remain a threat to public safety.
• An area-wide broadcast via the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) has been issued.
• Sufficient information to protect the public from danger is available to disseminate.

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