BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Top Erie County officials met Wednesday to unveil a long talked about system which will allow residents to text 911 rather than call it during dire circumstances.
County Executive Mark Poloncarz met with Commissioner of Central Police Services John Glascott and other officials to explain the new alternative to calling 911. They say the new system will allow those with a disability to still communicate with police in the event of an emergency, but it also has one other key function.
People involved in an emergency, like a robbery in progress, can now text Erie County Sheriff’s Deputies to give them updates and alert them to developments.
“In accidents with injuries, in domestic violence situations or whenever a person can’t speak but needs help, a text to 911 will get assistance on the way,” Poloncarz said.
The new system still carries the responsibilities of normal phone calls to 911. Fake or prank calls result in criminal charges, the same will become of those who abuse the texting option.
Poloncarz says the system has several fail-safe features, like if the service is for some reason unavailable, an automatic reply will instruct texters to phone in due to the malfunction.
Crucial information about the system:
- Text-to-911 is not available if you are roaming.
- A text plan is required to place a text to 911.
- If texting to 9-1-1 is not available in your area, or is temporarily unavailable, you will receive a message indicating that texting 911 is not available and to contact 911 by other means.
- Photos and videos can’t be sent to 911.
- Text to 911 cannot include more than one person. Do not send an emergency text to anyone other
- Texts should be sent in simple words and not use abbreviations.
Despite the progress the system makes, Poloncarz said police want to remind the public that phone calls are still the fastest way to get information to authorities.