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Officials Differ On Emergency Phone Alert During Yellow Springs Standoff

A new telephone emergency alert system was used by the village of Yellow Springs during a deadly standoff with police on Tuesday night. WYSO’s Emily McCord is asking some questions about how the system was deployed.

The Hyper Reach phone system was purchased by Greene County last year. On Tuesday night, a message went out to Yellow Springs residents, advising those in the 200-300 block of North Stafford Streets to vacate their home.

But a press briefing Wednesday, Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer says evacuation was not his recommendation. Fischer says he did want the hyper reach system to let residents know of the emergency situation, but he did not recommend that residents leave their homes.

"We were not at that time convinced that the person was in the house, that he could have been mobile, and we didn’t want to put the residents in that neighborhood in harms way," says Fischer.

The hyper reach alert system can be initiated from several places: Greene County, Miami Township Fire Rescue and the Yellow Springs Police Department. That’s where this warning was dispatched.  Yellow Springs manager Laura Curliss says local police on the scene determined that evacuation was the safe call.  

"The officers on the scene make  decisions about timing as to when it might be safe for people to evacuate to get out of an area that might be dangerous to them. They’re other times when ‘no, it’s not safe’ that they want people on lockdown," says Curliss. "The officers on the scene made a decision that the 200-300 block could be vacated at a certain time."

Curliss says that the phone call did not put any residents in danger. At another press briefing Thursday, she said officials will be looking into how the hyper alert system is used in the future.