- Associated Press - Thursday, September 22, 2016

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan’s new system to quickly warn people of mass shootings, terrorist attacks and other nearby threats is operational, state police announced Thursday.

Following activation by law enforcement, the system can be used to interrupt radio and television broadcasting in the affected area, similar to Amber Alerts. A wireless emergency alert can also be issued through mobile carriers that will appear on mobile devices similar to a text message.

“It is extremely important to make the public aware of a potentially life threatening situation, as accurately and quickly as possible, so our residents can stay out of harm’s way,” state police director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue said in a statement.

Legislation to create the system was signed in June by Gov. Rick Snyder. It was spurred by the random February fatal shootings of six people in the Kalamazoo area.

Unlike other emergency notifications, state police noted that people don’t need to opt-in to receive alerts from the new system.

“My hope is that we never have to use this system. However, if tragedy should strike our local communities rest assured you will be alerted promptly,” said state Rep. Brandt Iden, R-Kalamazoo County, who sponsored the legislation.

The legislation also creates criminal penalties for making a false report of a public threat and requires offenders to reimburse governments for the cost of responding to false reports.

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