STANTON — When the Howard City Police Department merged with the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office earlier this month, it brought with it many of its officers and their experience, but the department also brought its ideas.
Nixle, a communication system that allows law enforcement to send out instant messages to those who subscribe, is free to anyone who signs up and can send messages in the form of text messages or emails. The messages can also be viewed online.
Messages may include important alerts, information about lost children, crime notifications, news releases and requests for assistance, as well as other relevant safety and community event information.
“We don’t really have a real quick way to get info out to people other than the media,” Sheriff Bill Barnwell said. “I think it is a great way to get word out quickly in the case of an emergency.”
Messages can come with an attached photograph, as in the case of a missing person.
Howard City has used the service since 2010 and the Edmore Police Department also offers Nixle, which has been successful, according to Police Chief Luke Sawyer.
“It’s a way for us in law enforcement to get out a message instantly,” he said. “It’s a great resource, it’s the cost of a text message.”
Anyone who signs up can determine which agency he or she would like to receive notifications from, whether it be just Edmore Police Department of the sheriff’s office.
Residents of Montcalm County, neighboring communities or the news media can immediately begin receiving pertinent information from Nixle by registering at www.nixle.com online.
Law enforcement officials said the simplicity of sending out the message increases its efficiency and encourage residents to sign up for the free service.
“I can basically take out my phone, type a Nixle message and send it out from my phone and it goes out as a message to anyone in our zip code,” Sawyer said. “The bottom line is, in critical incidents we need to take advantage of any sort of technology we have. If it’s something people need to know now, we can’t wait those several hours.”