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People confused as shelter in place alert in Fargo is sent to people across metro



After a man barricaded himself inside his vehicle early Saturday morning in South Fargo, a shelter in place alert went out to people throughout the Cass and Clay counties.

The Fargo Police Department intended the alert to only cover a three block radius in South Fargo, but the alert sent out by Red River Dispatch reached far more people outside of that area.

“We did confirm that that alert only went out to that three block radius because we can draw a map as to where we want that to go out to. However, for individuals that did receive it that didn’t live in that specific area, it may have been because they may have registered an address within that area to receive alerts,” Fargo Police Public Information Officer  Jessica Schindeldecker said.

What that means is if you signed up for alerts using an address in the area for work, school or a child’s daycare, you would have received an alert.

“When you sign up you can put in up to five different addresses. So, depending on how they assigned up and what addresses they put in when they signed up they could have received that notice,” City of Fargo’s Emergency Services Coordinator Leon Schlafmann said.

Officials from Cass Fargo Emergency Management say the shelter in place notifications went out to over 100 people, but another alert in the area could have added to the confusion.

“It looked like it went out to 154 residents or contacts and also it looks like there was an IPAWS the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System which is different than Cass Clay Alerts,” Schlafmann said.

Schlafmann describes how the notification system works.

“Cass Clay Alerts is a mass notification system that is mainly used on the first responder side for public safety as far as anything imminent to life, property or the environment. It’s totally voluntary, you can opt in to different notifications, so it’s a pretty robust system,” Schlafmann said.

Although the system works, Schlafmann says there is a possibility errors.

“Any system always has potential for human error. There can always be a fault within the system but as far as the mechanics and the system itself it’s been very good for us,” Schlafmann said.