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GW police set up social networking
by Tim Delaney, Progress Editor
May 02, 2012 | 844 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tim Delaney photo.George West Police Chief Ray Garcia Jr. shows how easy it is to subscrive to Nixle, a social networking system that promotes public safety. Garcia urges residents to sign up for the free service for emergency alerts sent as text messages or emails.
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GEORGE WEST – The George West Police Department has set up a mass notification system called Nixle that is designed to help public safety.

Police Chief Ray Garcia Jr. addressed the George West City Council April 23, urging all to sign up for the service.

“It doesn’t cost anything. The more people who sign up for it, the better it is for us,” Garcia said.

Garcia explained all a resident has to do to sign up is text your ZIP code to 888-777 for text message notification. Or a potential subscriber can go to nixle.com and sign up online.

Unsubscribing is easy, too. When a text notification comes in, text back “stop,” and you are unsubscribed. Or you can email nixle to stop the service.

“This is not only for disasters. It’s for things that are going on in town that people should be aware of,” Garcia said.

He said, for example, prowlers might be in a neighborhood, or con artists might be going door-to-door. An alert to their presence would be beneficial to residents.

Severe weather warnings are another threat that the community and schools would be informed of.

Garcia said cell-phone users may have to pay a fee for text messages, depending on what deal they have with the cell- phone service. Emailed notifications are free, and a Nixle subscriber can receive those on their phones or on their computer.

“I looked at it about two years ago. I was kind of leery about it at first, but then I saw it in a police magazine,” Garcia said. “For public safety, it is a great tool.”

Garcia added that had he thought the idea was a bad one, he never would have brought it up.

Police Officer Nick Chavis said Garcia gave the department the directive a week or so ago, and now the George West Police Department is set up with Nixle at no cost to the city.

Chavis said there are 5,000 agencies on board with Nixle. And he noted that there are case studies on nixle.com that show the service helps with apprehension and saving lives.

Garcia said Chavis, the department’s two supervisors and he will handle inputting information for the area’s residents.

“We’re always the first to know,” he said.
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