On Thursday morning, residents across our region received an emergency alert on their cellphones regarding an ongoing police activity.
The initial alert stated police activity in the area and prompted individuals to avoid the area without specifically mentioning the location. The alert caused our readers from across the region to message us asking what was going on.
Jude Lane in Conowingo, Cecil County, Maryland. Media outlets simultaneously escalated the sense of urgency as television emergency messages corroborated the mobile alert, directing attention to the same location.
Within minutes of the initial warning, a second alert was issued via mobile and television. The follow-up message mentioned that the incident was taking place on Jude Lane in Conowingo, Cecil County, Maryland.
Shortly after the second alert, the Newark Police Department clarified the circumstances surrounding the alert. In an official statement, the Newark Police indicated that the message dispatched across the region was transmitted erroneously by a neighboring state. Assuring the public of their safety, they confirmed that no actual emergency was occurring in Newark and advised that the alert could be disregarded.
The Delaware Department of Emergency Management, the Delaware State Police along with officials in Pennsylvania and Maryland followed with similar statements.
The miscommunication of the alert also impacted educational institutions. The Appoquinimink School District, taking note of the potential for concern among parents, sent out an email to clarify that the incident referenced in the alert was localized in Maryland and posed no threat locally.
The Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS), is part of the same Emergency Alert system that was tested in October across the country,
The test was to confirm the system’s capability to reach all TVs, radios, and cell phones at the same time.
The incident in Maryland, where an alert was mistakenly sent beyond the intended area, highlights the importance of precise targeting in emergency communications.
Authorities have not yet disclosed specific details regarding the nature of the police activity in Cecil County.