New C.A.R.E.S. alert system aims to keep Bay County kids safe during potential threats

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SOUTHPORT, Fla. — The Bay County Sheriff’s Office is working to make sure kids are as safe as possible during potentially dangerous law enforcement situations with the new C.A.R.E.S. program.  

“Previously they weren’t aware of situations unless they heard it via news media,” said Micki Wyatt, a Dispatch Communications Supervisor. “Now they will have first-hand knowledge when an incident occurs in the area where they’re at.”

It stands for Childcare Alerting and Response to Emergency Situations.

The program runs through Alert Bay, a county-wide emergency services alert notification system, to let schools and daycare facilities know when there’s a potential threat in their area. 

“This gives them fast notification, without having to interrupt their day, without having to interrupt our day as much,” said Sarah Wells, a Bay County Emergency Services Dispatcher. “It allows us to continue on with our jobs.”

C.A.R.E.S. was designed after a shooting in Springfield in November; BCSO thought it best to be able let facilities handling children know what’s going on when law enforcement is involved in a nearby situation so that they can take proper precautions if necessary. 

“Most daycares are children five and below, they cannot defend themselves,” said BCSO Lt. Andy Husar. “If someone’s running from the law, they’re going to try and hide the best place they can, this gives the daycares an opportunity to protect the kids, lock the doors and keep the bad guy away.”

Alert dispatchers trained on the new system on Wednesday, in order to keep Bay County kids as safe as possible during emergency situations.

To learn more about Alert Bay or to sign up for alert notifications, click here.

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