Politician Abusing Reverse 911 System for His Own Gain

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Reverse 911 systems are spreading like wildfire as town and state officials are extending their hearts and budgets to safeguard the people they protect. Unfortunately, with any new technology comes the desire to use it for personal gain. For the residents of Independence, Ohio, a recent call sent many into an uproar.

The Swiftreach program, the city's reverse 911 emergency notification system, was implemented to warn residents about any potential threats to their safety such as inclement weather, natural disasters, chemical disasters, etc. The warning system not only warns residents of impending danger, but it also provides instructions about emergency shelters, proper precautions and evacuation routes.

Residents of Independence were recently called through the system; however, this time the message was far from an emergency situation. The call was about Mayor Gregory Kurtz and his plea to get people to vote for Issue 4. Issue 4 involves the entrance to the Independence Center and its current realignment with Selig Drive. After the vote, it will be determined whether or not the realignment should continue or the city will have to restore the intersection which will cost money. The Issue was put before the voters as the result of a lawsuit filed by a group of citizens who petitioned City Council asking that a gazebo property on Selig remain public domain. These petitions were not placed on the May ballot due to the neglect of several council members to vote. In response to the lawsuit, the Board of Elections decided to extend the issue to voters, hence the creation of Issue 4.

Many residents were less than thrilled when they received Mayor Kurtz's message via the city's emergency notification system. They labeled the action a "misuse of the system". They believe the action was invasive and violates the real intention of why the system was implemented in the first place.

Whether the residents of Independence will win their argument or not is yet to be seen. One thing is certain, local residents are adamant about keeping technology purposeful and solving a need, and that need to the people of Independence, Ohio is safety and protection.