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Sheriff and Farm Bureau Talk Rural Safety at State Fair

Updated: Thursday, August 15 2013, 10:54 AM CDT

Today was Ag Day at the Illinois State Fair. That means a big focus on things like livestock shows and farm exhibits.

But Sangamon County's Sheriff and Farm Bureau hooked up to talk about rural safety--especially since harvest is coming soon and cars will be sharing the road with farm equipment.

"They gotta give us a break, they gotta be patient, they gotta slow down," Sangamon County Farm Bureau President Larry Beaty said. "If they're traveling 60 and we're traveling 15, they come upon that piece of equipment so quick, especially if they're talking on the phone or texting on the phone, they don't realize."

The sheriff's office is giving farmers an update on their eLert system.
It's a program that sends text messages to a list of subscribers put together by the Farm Bureau.

"Our supervisors have the ability, in their squad cars, to log into this eLert system and send out a message to all the subscribers in that area, that we're looking for a blue pickup truck going south on Curran road," Undersheriff Jack Campbell said. "Our intent with that would be to--if I see that pickup truck, to call 911."

Campbell said the system has only been used a couple of times, and there hasn't been an incident where it saved the day.

"We haven't had it yet, but it is coming," Campbell said. "And what we're concerned about is this is just one more tool we have in our arsenal to keep people safe."

The system had an initial cost of $8,000 back in 2012, and costs a few hundred dollars per year to maintain. It's all paid for by the Sangamon County Farm Bureau.

Beaty said it's well worth it.

"If there's a thunderstorm coming, if there's a tornado watch coming, we get that," Beaty said. "If we want to put out an eLert for a meeting, we've got that. If indeed something happens in the county, if you see a van that's not supposed to be there, you can put that on there, and then everybody looks out for it."

The sheriff's office has a similar tool, called A Child is Missing. It makes automated phone calls to land lines of residents in certain areas to alert them to watch for an endangered individual.

Campbell said as people move from landlines to cell phones, systems like eLert will become more important, because they target mobile phones.
Reporting at the Illinois State Fair, Mike Brooks, ABC NewsChannel 20.

Sheriff and Farm Bureau Talk Rural Safety at State Fair

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