MDOC launches countywide communication system in Greene County

MDOC launches countywide communication system in Greene County
MDOC is launching a countywide mass communication in Greene County, where South Mississippi Correctional Institute is located. (Source: MDOC)

GREENE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi Department of Corrections is trying to enhance communication with people in Greene County, where the South Mississippi Correction Institute is located.

On Thursday, all landlines and cellphones in the county should receive a call. Emails and text messages will be sent to cellphones, as well. The message will begin as, "This is a test ....," similar to what is used for weather and Amber alerts.

"This is an important tool to keep people informed who live near or are traveling near the prison should we have an emergency situation in the future," Commissioner Pelicia E. Hall said. "We are committed to maintaining public safety, and we take that responsibility seriously."

SMCI Superintendent Joe Errington said the mass notification system has been planned since August 2018 in combination with an advisory committee, including local officials, which started meeting in September.

"Anyone who uses a communication device, whether it is a cellphone, regular phone, or e-mail, you should receive the test broadcast, if you are in Greene County (this) morning," Errington said.

Errington said the system is capable of more than just broadcasting an alert. It also has a two-way communication feature.

Michael "Pretty Boy Floyd" Wilson escaped from SMCI on July 5, 2018. He was caught in Jackson County three days later after an intensive manhunt. (Photo source: Biloxi Police Dept.)
Michael "Pretty Boy Floyd" Wilson escaped from SMCI on July 5, 2018. He was caught in Jackson County three days later after an intensive manhunt. (Photo source: Biloxi Police Dept.)

"If we have a situation, such as an escape, people who receive the alert can also text or call back from their location to provide information they may have that could help us," Errington said. "If they see or hear anything, we would have people on standby to receive that information."

The mass notification system draws from several databases, including the county's 911 system, to reach all phones in Greene County. Anyone traveling through Greene County at the time of the test should receive an alert on his or her phone, as well.

After the test, Errington said there will be a tabletop exercise to discuss and evaluate responses to different scenarios.

Commissioner Hall first announced this mass communication system in September 2018, just two months after convicted killer Pretty Boy Floyd escaped from SMCI. That escape led to a manhunt throughout the state. Floyd was caught in the St. Martin community of Jackson County 72 hours after his escape.

Copyright 2019 WLOX. All rights reserved.