Mount Shasta Police Chief discusses why Code Red didn't reach all

Giovanni Lamanna
Mount Shasta Police Chief Parish Cross

Police Chief Parish Cross spoke about the Code Red service during the regular meeting of the Mount Shasta City Council on Monday evening, July 10.

Code Red is a rapid notification service sponsored by Siskiyou County Office of Emergency Services, according to city staff.

It was used by the city when there was an issue with the water system on June 25. After the notification was sent, it was learned sometime later that some people did not receive notification from the Code Red system.

The city council requested some research into the issue.

Cross said, “Notifications through Code Red go out to individuals that have a listed phone number through a listed phone provider, primarily AT&T. Basically, land-line phone numbers are contacts. If you do not have a land-line and want notifications to go to your phone, you have to go onto our website and register your (cell) phone or email for notifications.”

Cross said many did not get the notification because it went out as a “general” notification.

Those who registered for Code Red but did not specify that they want general and emergency notifications will only receive emergency notifications.

He said a Police Department dispatcher who was supposed to send out the code didn't remember all the steps. MSPD had a Sheriff's Office dispatcher send out the notification, and they did not specify to the dispatcher if it was to go out as an emergency or general notification. The dispatcher sent it as a general notification, according to Cross.

The first notification that was sent out over Code Red was sent to 1,618 people, and the notification missed about 412 people.

Cross said, “When the water issue test came back negative, we used this as a time to test the Code Red System. For the first test, we called out to 1,978 people, and we missed roughly 360. What we did is contacted Code Red because we heard complaints that we missed some people. Code Red recommended that we slow down how fast we send the numbers out from this computer system. The acceleration may have been too fast, and the system may have overlooked numbers, if-you-will. With the declaration of the phone calls, our numbers did improve a little bit.”

Cross said there are many reasons why some people did not get the call. The possibilities include: those with unlisted phone numbers, people who do not have an answering machine, people who were on the phone when the call went out, and those whose listed number was a fax number.

“This is the best system we have,” said Cross. “As far as my recommendation from a public safety official and the way we do business through the Office of Emergency Services in collaboration with the County, this is the best way.”

He said there are other outreaches as well. The Mount Shasta Police Department’s Facebook page has a large outreach. The original water notification reached around 44,000 people. Signing up to receive notifications from the Mount Shasta PD Facebook would be another way to receive notifications.

This was an information-only item for the city council; no action was taken.