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Upgrades to Kenosha Co. emergency system will send alerts to cell phones

Dave Eckhart has lived in his home off of Highway 142 in Brighton for 25 years.

"I've never locked my garage door before in my life until last week," he said.

Now, his quiet country life has turned into anything but.

"No sleep," he said. "Cops running up and down the road, shining their lights in the house."

Eckhart's house is near Tuesday night's search area for murder suspect Andrew Obregon.

Authorities sent out an alert to neighbors, urging them to lock their doors and call 911 if they see anything suspicious. But Eckhart and his wife never got the warning. They don't have a land-line phone.

"We haven't had ours I think three years now," he said.

Like many other families, the Eckhart's only have cell phones.

Currently, Kenosha County's emergency system can't send alerts to mobile devices. Lt. Gil Benn is the county's emergency management director.

"It's just a great resource to get immediate information that could be in some situations life threatening," said Lt. Benn.

Because of that, he's asking for money in next year's budget for a system upgrade.

The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, or IPAWS, can reach cell phones. County-wide or neighborhood specific notifications range from weather emergencies to missing or dangerous persons.

"Whether it be someone who already lives here and only uses a cell phone or someone who happens to be passing through and may not know of a current risk they're going to get that alert," Lt. Benn said.

Eckhart approves of the $4,000 to $5,000 investment, saying it and the end to this manhunt can't come soon enough.

"It's getting too long," said Eckhart.

Until a new system is in place, Kenosha County residents can get emergency alerts of any kind on their cell phone or via email, by signing up for the alert sense service.

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