DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A shelter-in-place alert Thursday caused confusion in the Midstate. The alert was supposed to go to people in the vicinity of a police incident happening in Susquehanna Township, but it went farther than expected, reaching people in Cumberland and York counties.
abc27 reached out to Dauphin County officials to find out what went wrong. Officials do not know exactly what happened and are still working to figure it out.
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According to Dauphin County spokesperson Brett Hambright, these public safety alerts are meant to work like the AMBER Alert system, but on a smaller scale. He said they are meant for people in the immediate area of the incident, and target those people based on cell phone location.
The Dauphin County Department of Public Safety (DPS) indicated the area the alert was supposed to reach in a tweet, but it went out much further, into neighboring counties.
DPS put out the alert Thursday \when a police incident in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County turned deadly. Detectives from the DA’s office had approached a man suspected of having child pornography. He initially cooperated, but later pointed a gun at detectives.
When they called for backup, police heard a gunshot. At the time, they did not know the man had shot himself, so they put out the shelter in place order, lifting it soon after.
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DPS is responsible for the content of the alerts before they go out through FEMA’s system and the county’s software provider.
Hambright said the county does do monthly tests of the alert system, as FEMA requires. He said the county is working with its software provider, FEMA and PEMA to find out what went wrong.
abc27 will follow up with the county and share more about what happened.