At the last Village Board meeting, outgoing Village Trustee Carol Quinlan (Dist. 5) raised the issue of who sets policy on when Everbridge alerts should be sent to residents after she received a phone call at 1 a.m. about a storm watch the week before.
Quinlan noted that the phone only rings at 1 a.m. when there is a problem and she said that people answering the phone at that time immediately think something is wrong. She said “your heart is in your throat” when you receive a call at that time. Quinlan explained that she has a couple of young adult children away at college and that her parents are at an advanced age.
Police Chief Michael Murray said that the message was sent out by the 911 radio room. He claimed that the radio room gets notifications from the National Weather Service and then they send it out on the Village’s Everbridge Alert system, which is used to notify residents of criminal activity as well as severe storms.
Quinlan said that she wouldn’t have had a problem with the notification except the residents had been warned several times during the course of the day. Trustee Robert Streit (Dist. 3) agreed with Quinlan stating that there wasn’t a severe storm threat for Oak Lawn by 1 a.m.
Both Mayor Sandra Bury and Village Manager Larry Deetjen defended the 1 a.m. message. As Quinlan spoke, Bury repeatedly interrupted. When Quinlan asked Murray if there was a way to bypass the notification, Bury blurted out, “I don’t know if you want to bypass it”.
Later, Bury said, “I fully support our police’s (sic) decision to notify us whenever they feel we are in imminent danger”.
Bury seemed to be minimizing Quinlan’s questions and at one point said, “I’m sure that they (the 911 radio room) didn’t do it out of spite”.
Quinlan, who has often been at odds with Bury, said “I’m not saying that”. She questioned whether the decision is solely made by the administration and said that she thought the board should decide the policy on such notifications.
Bury also said that if there wasn’t a notification sent, Quinlan would have been complaining that a notification should be sent out.
Deetjen said that he had three phones that rang at 1 a.m. and that individuals can decide if they want the call by simply silencing their phones. Quinlan responded by saying that silencing the phone isn’t an option for people like her who have children in college or elderly parents who may have to call with an actual emergency that you would want to be aware of immediately.
Except for Streit and Quinlan, no other Trustees spoke about the issue. Eventually, Deetjen said that he would review the issue with his management team and report back to the board.
(View the discussion below. The discussion starts at about 19 seconds into the report by Quinlan)