Jeff Davis Parish Alert System At Work

May 3, 2007
Reported By: Lee Peck

A prank phone call lands a Jennings teen in handcuffs. Authorities say eight o'clock Thursday morning a bomb threat was called in at the Jennings Alternative School. Students and faculty were evacuated, while authorities searched the campus, but found no dangerous devices. Investigators later traced the phone call and arrested a 16-year-old Jennings male charging him with terrorizing.

In light of everything that happened at Virginia Tech, Thursday's bomb threat was especially scary for parents.

"A friend of ours, Buffy Crochet, called us up and said -- 'Hey did you know there was a bomb threat over there at the school,' and I said no I didn't," said Jennings resident William Richard.

Richard's friend is one of nearly 700 people who knew exactly what was going on. She knew because she subscribes to the Jeff Davis Parish Alert System.

"It's our belief that if we keep the citizens informed of what's going on we can have better government, better interaction," said Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff Ricky Edwards.

Sheriff Edwards says the online notification network is the first of its kind in the state. Funded by a Homeland Security grant through the Office of Emergency Preparedness, it alerts residents and first responders of severe weather, road closures, Amber Alerts and other emergencies through cell phone texts and emails free of charge.

"The text messaging and the cell phone industry goes pretty much international so wherever you are you can get the message," said Sheriff Edwards.

To start getting messages is really quiet simple. All you have to do is log on to their website Once online you can tailor your messages for what you need.

"I got on there today and signed up. It didn't take long, all but about 3 to 4 minutes," said Richard.

Richard is now a subscriber, and as a parent is comforted by the peace of mind the technology offers. "The message that came through on Buffy's phone told her exactly where to go, where to pick up her kids if she had kids there. It gave her all the information she needed," said Richard.

The alert system has been up and running since June 2006 and is constantly being upgraded to provide more information to residents.

"My focus has always been if I let the citizens know what's going on then that will help me down in the long run. I get a better response and know what I need to be doing," said Sheriff Edwards.

All classes resume tomorrow morning at the Jennings Alternative School.

Meanwhile, if you would like to sign up for the Jeff Davis Parish Alert System click here. Again, the service is free, however if you don't have text services with your cell phone provider they will charge you a small fee.