Did you know that our very own Richmond Police Department (RPD) recently became the first agency in Northern California to enable 911 emergency texting for residents?
“We went live with text to 911 at the end of January,” RPD Communications Shift Manager Deana Norton told For Richmond.
According to a statement from RPD Crime Prevention Manager Michelle Milam, the so-called “Text-to-911” technology allows residents to send an emergency text to 911 and is intended as a valuable tool for those who are unable to make a voice call.
And therein lies the rub…
“We recommend you use it only if you cannot make a voice call because of a disability or if by making a voice call you’d put yourself or another person in danger,” the RPD advised about 911 texting in a post on its Facebook page.
To help educate Richmond residents and other local communities on how to properly use the text 911 service, the RPD issued these guidelines:
When should I text 911?
- When the safety of yourself or another would be in jeopardy by placing a voice call.
- If you are speech or hearing impaired.
How do I text 911?
- Put 911 where you would normally place a number when creating a new text message.
- Give the location/address where you need help. This is the most important information.
- The dispatcher will ask questions, just like a voice call. Answer the questions as quickly and accurately as possible.
- Text-to-911 does not accept picture messages, video messages or sound bites.
- Text-to-911 does not have the ability to utilize a translation service. If you do not speak English call 911 and a translator will be obtained.
In a nutshell, “call when you can, text if you must,” said Norton.
According to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle, the RPD’s 911 center, takes about 20,000 calls per month and also serves San Pablo, El Cerrito, Kensington and Contra Costa College.
“We have received at least a dozen texts so far,” said Norton of Text-to-911. “They included a citizen hearing gunshots, reporting a grass fire, reporting a drunk driver and a music complaint.”
For more info regarding Text-to-911, contact the aforementioned RPD Communications Shift Supervisor Deana Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org.