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EBRSO creating own alert system after controversy

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Posted: Jun 10, 2010 7:37 PM by Sarah Rosario, Anna Brown
Updated: Jun 10, 2010 9:27 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, alert system, Mayor Kip Holden, Baton Rouge, prison escapees, WBRZ

The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office is moving forward with creating its own alert messaging service after residents were delayed notification about two prison escapees last week.

The prisoners escaped from the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. Residents believe the call to notify them about what happened didn't go as smoothly, or quickly, as it should. That system is now under fire by residents, as well as Mayor Kip Holden.

"They obviously never negotiated a deal, and now when it's found out that there were a lot of mistakes made when those prisoners escaped, they want to point the finger and blame at us," said Mayor Holden.

"We absolutely are not pointing any fingers, and I apologize if anybody took it that way," said Public Information Director Casey Rayborn Hicks, with the Sheriff's Office.

Park Vista resident Jefferson Jordan says he received a phone message alerting him to the escaped prisoners several hours later.

"Two hours is too long to wait to be notified, "he said. "If the Sheriff's department had their own system you'd be talking about five minutes. In 30 minutes, two escapees could be a good ways off."

The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office was forced to call the EBR Fire Department to notify the public because they didn't have their own system. Hicks says going through a second party is partially why the process was delayed. However, the mayor says that's not true.

"The message did not go out on time simply because they input the incorrect information that should have been sent to the public," said Holden.

Hicks admitted fault saying some of the information sent out was incorrect due to human error, but was corrected "within minutes."

Holden says EBRSO could have joined in the parish's contract that was signed last December.

"I would suggest to them, go ahead and negotiate their own contact and then move this forward instead of trying to point the finger blame at our office because we're not going to sit back and take it," said Holden.

"For us the main priority is all of us working together for the best interest of the community," said Hicks.

EBRSO did confrim it's working to get its own phone messaging system in place as soon as possible.

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