The Westerly Sun is reporting that local police used a reverse-911 system to remind residents of a town ordinance that required they have their sidewalks cleared by the morning of December 23. Reverse 911 systems are normally used to alert whole communities to a chemical spill, a terrorist attack, an escaped rapist, or some other emergency (there are exceptions, but as this list makes clear, it was meant for law enforcement agencies to use in emergencies). Does unshoveled snow on sidewalks really count as an emergency in Westerly? We certainly hope not. Nor can we imagine that residents expected that a reverse-911 system would be used to notify them of local ordinances. Town officials should be taken to task for such a questionable use of public safety resources.
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