By Carol C. Neugent
Always looking for ways to engage the public and open communication, Chief Jeff Whitfield announced the Haysville Police Department’s participation in the community notification service, Nixle.
Nixle is a free system (standard message rates apply) that allows HPD to advise citizens of public safety issues, missing persons, large-scale public works projects, and traffic problems. Once subscribed to Nixle, citizens can receive alerts through text messages and emails.
Whitfield explained that the city was looking for ways to reach more people and include the public in distributing critical information.
“Nixle is a way for us to get information out to everyone quickly and efficiently,” he said.
The use of Nixle by the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s department first caught Whitfield’s interest. About that same time, a city employee informed him of how she used the system to keep up on events in her hometown where she still has family.
After conducting an in-house test for several months, the city officially put the Nixle system into use on March 1. Whitfield expressed his delight in its growth. What started as 15 initial users has grown to 129 users in only one month.
Over the last 30 days HPD has sent two alerts and the feedback has been all positive.
“People would tell me they received our text and seemed excited,” Whitfield said.
Other than the Sheriff’s Department, Whitfield believes Haysville is the only city in Sedgwick County using the system.
Whitfield said the city is now working to get the word out to its citizens in hopes of expanding the use of the system. He is hoping to see the user number continue to increase.
Individuals can subscribe to Nixle through a link on the city’s website, www.haysville-ks.com or they can go directly to the Nixle website, www.nixle.com. Subscribers can also text the word “haysvilleks” to 888777. Subscribers can register for up to five zip codes.
A policy guiding the use of Nixle by HPD is still being developed. The policy will cover procedures for approving messages and what types of messages would be appropriate for Nixle distribution.
Whitfield stressed that Nixle is not being used as a storm warning system. Monitoring the local weather services and media outlets is still the best course during severe weather.
Whitfield said that the city is always looking for input from its citizens. He encourages the public to contact him at email@example.com with the types of notices that might be of interest to the citizens.