Text-to-911 could be coming to local law enforcement - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

MCLENNAN COUNTY

Text-to-911 could be coming to local law enforcement

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MCLENNAN COUNTY -

We all know that texting can be dangerous in certain situations but in some cases, it could save your life. A new Text-to-911 service will soon be widely available for law enforcement.

All text message providers are required to offer the Text-to-911 service by the end of the year but that doesn't mean it will be available from our local law enforcement agencies. Starting May 15 2014, the top cell phone companies like T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint will voluntarily offer text-to-911 everywhere their networks are available.

So far Woodway's Department of Public Safety is the only agency in our area to offer the Text-to-911.  They've been testing the service since last summer.

McLennan County's Executive Director of 911 Carl Donton says they're trying to keep up with the times.  

"It seems to be the trend where everybody texts now, even I text quite a bit now. It's just shorter conversation; you get to the point and you're done," says Donton." "You don't have to spend five or ten minutes on the telephone. So it tends to be a trend and we will adapt to that trend." 

He says the texting service will also give the hearing impaired another way to ask for help.

In September of 2013, the Federal Communications Commission mandated wireless phone companies to send an automatic "bounce back" message to texters where the service isn't available. The message tells the person to contact 911 by phone or telecommunications system.

However, the new service has dispatchers worried how this could affect them doing their job.

"Their concerns [are] about tying up telephone lines and communication and the people who answer the communication 9-1-1 how long they would be tied up on a text call because they could take a little bit longer to answer and process than an regular voice call," says Donton. 

Donton says when the text-to-911 service is available the county will be ready. But because the service isn't mandatory it's up to the individual police agencies to opt in if they want to use it.

Bell County's 911 Communication Center says they're prepared and they want to be able to take advantage of the service but they're still working on an implementation plan.

For more information about Text-to-911 click here.

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