Mass Alert System Hailed As Success Following Manhattan Bombing

MONROE COUNTY -- Millions of people in New York City got the alert just before 8 a.m. Monday morning as officials searched for a man suspected in connection with this weekend's bombing in Manhattan.

"I'm constantly on my cell phone. I think it's a great idea. It keeps people informed as to what's going on and where it's going on,” said Terrence Walker of Tobyhanna, a native of New York City.

Law enforcement sent the mass cellphone alert using the nation's wireless emergency alert system. They say it's the first time such an alert was used for an active manhunt.

Robert Werts is the program manager for the Northeast Pennsylvania Regional Counter Terrorism Task Force.

"I think it's great, and more and more law enforcement is beginning to use the social media if you will to aid in their investigations. Nine times out of 10, members of the public have seen something, have heard something,” he said.

The alert came with two high-pitched tones, and two vibrations and included the suspect's name but no picture.

People who live in the Poconos but commute to New York City say the alert was clearly a success. The suspect was arrested about three hours later.

"People pay attention to their phones more than anything else nowadays, so I think it was effective,” said one woman.

Some people Newswatch 16 spoke with who got those alerts on their phones say they do wish a picture of the suspect had come with the text.

"That is the truth! Because when it came it was like, what does he look like? What does he look like? No one actually knew what he looked like,” said Lee Claxton of Henryville.

"I definitely think you're going to see a lot more of this. It was successful here, other police agencies are going to pick up on it and begin to use it,” said Werts.

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