Residents clamored on social media in the early morning hours Saturday wondering about the cause for helicopters hovering over homes rattling windows and the sounds of serious police response.
Later around 5 a.m. Ogden police posted on Facebook explaining the department was assisting in a planned military training exercise. Joint military and law enforcement training is routinely carried out, according to the post, to provide soldiers the opportunity to train in realistic environments.
"There is no denying — it was loud and it was late," the police post says. "Some were unsure of what was going on. Some woke up scared and confused. And for that, we apologize. We did not utilize social media because a crowd would have meant more people and less safety for everyone involved."
Ogden City Council members later clarified in a press release Saturday that Army Special Operations had contacted the city's police looking for a location to hold an exercise; Ogden police coordinated with Ogden Community and Economic Development to have access to the vacated Rite Aid building located at 24th Street and Monroe.
"The Administration was not aware of the scope of the exercise," the city council's statement reads. "They believed that the exercise would take place inside the building with little disruption to the neighborhood."
According to the police department's post, residents in the affected area of Ogden were reportedly alerted by a reverse 911 notification.
While some residents acknowledged receiving the alerts, other residents commented that they had not received any notifications prior to or during the reported hours-long affair.
In response, the Ogden City Council acknowledged that saying, "Most of your concerns relate to the lack of notice regarding this military exercise. We want you to know that we are taking every comment and social media post seriously. It's clear that the reverse 911 program proved ineffective as a communication tool and it was primarily the lack of communication that caused your distress and anxiety. As a Council, we are continually looking for ways to improve communication with our residents. We have learned from this experience and are committed to working with the Administration to develop more effective communications tools—particularly for emergency situations."
Police recommend residents enroll in emergency notification service CodeRED, if not already signed up, that notifies residents and businesses by phone, text message and email regarding "time-sensitive general and emergency notifications."
To register for CodeRED notifications, visit http://public.coderedweb.com/cne/en-US/11B885E194B7.