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Police roll out cell phone alert system
Free Nixle service warns of road closures, major police action
Had Manteca Police had Nixel in September 2009 they could have let residents know there was a major police action taking place regarding a search for armed bank robbers. - photo by Bulletin file photo

To sign up for e-mails or text message of Manteca Police Department actions, road closures or events go to

There were a lot of anxious parents when Manteca High went into a lockdown one afternoon in September of 2009.

Rumors were swirling about town that there was a gunman on campus.

But if Nixle had been in the mix of tools Manteca Police had at their disposal, those with cell phones would have been notified instantly that it was a precaution to secure the campus while police tried to locate the gunman who had just robbed the Bank of America three blocks away and fled toward Manteca High.

Nixle is a free public notification system that has been around since 2007. Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion said the department just recently joined the system at the suggestion of Captain John Orcutt.

Nixle was used to alert those registered from Manteca  about the collision Tuesday on Louise Avenue that knocked down a power pole and resulted in the roadway being closed for several hours.

Obligacion said it is all a part of the department’s commitment to work closer with the community. In the instance Tuesday, those who received the Nixel alert would have known to avoid that section of Louise Avenue.

It was used again on Wednesday when the northbound onramp to Highway 99 at Lathrop Road was closed due to a fatal accident.

“We tested it and found out that just after you hit the send key it is pretty much (instantaneous) to the people who are signed up,” Obligacion said.

When you sign up for the free service that can send e-mails or text messages to cell phones, tablets, or computers it will ask you for your address. Manteca Police have the capability with Nixel to send alerts to those signed up in the 95336, 95337 of both ZIP Codes.

Manteca Police have an automated phone alert system when needed. Obligacion noted that if something happened and you’re not home you wouldn’t get the alert or if you are part of the growing number of households that have no hard wire phone service and just rely on cell phones.

Obligacion noted that the other advantage is you could be at work in the Bay Area and be alerted of a situation in your neighborhood or even a major freeway accident in Manteca. The police chief noted it could be used for a wide variety of things such as missing person alerts, major fire and police incidents, emergency situations such as the train derailment in the late 1980s along Moffat Boulevard that required a large scale evacuation, street closures for public work projects, and even planned closures involving streets connected with events such as the downtown street fair.

Nixel is already in place in Ripon and Modesto.

The San Francisco-based firm offers free and paid notification services for local police departments, county emergency management offices, municipal governments and their agencies. The system Manteca uses is free. As of 2011, Nixel served more than 4,600 government agencies in 50 states.

Law enforcement agencies have used it successfully to help locate missing individuals, alerting students in colleges of lockdown situations, and even helping apprehend criminals by citizens receiving alerts calling police that they had seen the subject they were seeking.