Chuck Schumer wants photos of suspects in emergency alerts

Senator Schumer Cellphone emergency alerts should include

The push follows the decision by authorities in the city to send an alert earlier this month telling the public they were looking for bombing supsect Ahmad Khan Rahami. It can't transmit photos or video.

"We can't afford to have an emergency wireless response system that is stuck in the 90's". An alert also went out to Chelsea residents the night of the bombing; it read: "Suspicious package: residents on W 27th b/t 6th and 7th Ave stay away from windows".

The lack of a visual on the suspect highlights the shortcomings of the country's emergency alert system, The Washington Post reports. "Upgrade the system and allow pictures, which are a thousand words on the emergency alert", Schumer said at a news conference in New York City Sunday. Schumer said the information gap forced alert recipients in the area of the Manhattan bombing to hunt for incident information online rather than having it immediately available on their personal devices. "But I really find that the worst of Monday morning quarterbacking is for people to critique an approach that actually helped catch a terrorist".

The lawmaker acknowledged that other factors, not the text alerts, led to the capture of Rahami. Several hundred are issued each year, although September 19 was the first time an alert was used to track down a suspected terrorist (the alert after the Boston marathon bombing warned residents to "shelter in place"). Though the FCC has already discussed some updates to the system, Schumer said the tool needs multimedia capability to serve as a truly effective resource.

The message, however, drew criticism from some who feared racial targeting because the alert included only the name and age of the suspect, not a photo.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Verizon wrote to the FCC this spring, cautioning that including web links in WEA alerts could result in "inadvertent network congestion".



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