|Facebook, Twitter could host terror alerts|
|Written by Erin Hogg, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Tuesday, 19 April 2011 19:59|
To replace the five color-coded terror alerts developed after Sept. 11, 2001, a new system of terror warnings will have two levels—elevated and imminent—and will sometimes be broadcast through Facebook and Twitter.
A 19-page document obtained by The Associated Press details a process in which members of Congress will be the first to be notified with terror alerts, followed by state counterterrorism officials, before reaching the public.
The plan also outlines how much time can pass before organizing urgent conference calls among U.S. officials to discuss pending threats, according to USA TODAY.
The new system is expected to take effect by April 27.
The alerts will be published to Facebook and Twitter when appropriate, but only after federal, state and local governments have been notified.
The primary focus for terror alerts in the past has been based around a public forum for education. However, the new system has a new purpose, according to Cara Rabe-Hemp, associate professor of criminal justice sciences.
“Now it’s about communicating with first responders and Congress members and getting information out and being prepared as quickly as possible,” Rabe-Hemp said.
“This new plan is more for first responders getting information as quickly as possible. For the public, it will be no more information than before,” she added.
On campus, the increase in the amount of notifications students, staff and faculty receive about crime alerts has led to more people being more aware of crimes.
“Being more aware of crimes on campus may lead to some people being more afraid about their safety,” Rabe-Hemp said.
The crime alerts, distributed by the Illinois State University Police Department, are issued in compliance with the “Timely Notice” provisions of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, according to the ISU Police website.
“The crime alerts are meant to tell people what’s going on and if someone sees suspicious activity, to call the police. The terror alerts put out by Homeland Security are the same thing, only on a much bigger scale,” Aaron Woodruff, acting chief of police, said.
“We’re hoping with the Crime Alerts, people can be aware at all times and to call the police if they notice any odd behavior. With terrorism, people may not know what to do if they see someone in the shadows filming or if someone asks them about where to purchase chemical supplies [for bombs,]” Woodruff said.
Woodruff added it is difficult for the public to differentiate general crime between something bigger, like terrorism, and he encourages people to call the police if they notice anything suspicious.