Manhunt for bomber prompts ear-splitting phone alert

A loud series of tones we're pretty sure the FCC forbids us from replaying on television emanated from seemingly every cell phone in New York City Monday morning accompanied by the following message: "Wanted: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28-yr-old male. See media for pic. Call 9-1-1 if seen."

The Wireless Emergency Alert System issues three kinds of alerts: Amber Alerts for abducted children, alerts issued by the president, and emergency alerts for weather and threats to public safety. Monday's alert fell into that third category and marked the first use of this system to aid in a manhunt.

"No more wanted poster on a precinct house wall," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. He highlighted the city use of this pre-8 a.m. phone alert as an example of modern policing and promised to use it in this manner again if need be. "We think it created a lot of focus and urgency," he added.

But critics of Monday's alert think it created another excuse for racial and ethnic intolerance.

"It just told us to look at brown people and didn't include a photo so it seems like it just caused more panic than it actually helped," one person told us.

De Blasio told the media the alert definitely contributed to the apprehension of the subject several hours later but as of Monday night had presented no evidence as to how exactly it did so.

Investigative Management Group CEO Robert Strang, and former FBI and DEA agent, admitted that an accompanying image might have improved the notification. But he also praised it for how quickly it informed as many people as it did.

"Will it get better as time goes on?" he said. "I hope we never have to use it again."

New Yorkers hope their Tuesdays begin with softer tones than those that announced the start of their Mondays.

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