People seeking emergency service in the city of Riverside now have the ability to text their information to dispatchers.
The Riverside Police Department’s “Text to 911” program recently completed a series of tests and has been officially activated, according to the agency.
“Traditional phone calls are still the most efficient way to gain information,” said RPD Lt. Melissa Bartholomew, who manages the city’s Public Safety Communication Center. “This service is meant to allow those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, along with those in an unsafe situation where speech would be dangerous, to contact our dispatch center to gain help in the event of an emergency.”
Officials said that all texts must be in English and sent from a phone linked to a wireless provider by contract. Individuals who use pay-as-you plans, funding accounts as needed, or who rely on roaming connectivity, will not be able to access the Text to 911 system, according to Bartholomew.
Videos and pictures cannot be included with emergency texts, and officials stressed that abbreviations should be kept to a minimum.
Bartholomew said the dispatch center has two cellular phones on hand that are dedicated to the Text to 911 service. However, she said texts will eventually show up on dispatchers’ screens.
Anyone who attempts to prank or tie up the text service will be subject to potential criminal penalties, as is the case with 911 calls, officials said.
More information about the service is available via the city’s 311 call center, or by contacting Bartholomew via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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