Passing time always brings with it new technologies, and emergency procedures are no exception. Cell phone technology is giving rise to the idea of text messaging to 911 in case of emergency.
Kentucky State Police Post 10 Commander P.J. Burnett said that while KSP dispatchers do not take text messages directly, there is a similar method already in use.
“We have a program called ‘text a tip,’ it’s completely confidential,” said Burnett. “You can use any personal or electronic device with texting capabilities. You simply text 67283 in the address field and type KSP tip in the message field. Leave a space after that and leave information about the crime you’re wanting to report.”
Burnett said the process is completely anonymous.
“If somebody texts, it goes to Frankfort,” said Burnett. “They will field those texts and send it out to the proper post…it will be sent to our telecommunicators and then that information will be looked at for investigative thoroughness.”
Burnett said at the moment, there is no program in place in the Post 10 coverage area for 911 texts to be sent directly to dispatchers.
According to Burnett, the best way to contact police in case of an emergency is still a traditional 911 call.
“We can get real- time information right then,” said Burnett. “Dispatchers know what questions to ask that person that’s requesting assistance. If you’re just sending a text, you wouldn’t know all the stuff that we need, like who’s the perpetrator, what’s your location, what’s your surroundings, things of that nature.”
Burnett pointed out that emergency texts to 911 could be useful in certain emergency scenarios, such as if a person needed to contact police from inside a home and they felt like they could be heard by someone intending harm.
“We daily are looking at using innovative techniques to better serve the community,” said Burnett.
Burnett mentioned with residents increasingly relying on text messaging to communicate — especially the younger generation — he does see a day coming when text messaging 911 is a viable option. He also mentioned there are many people having their land lines removed and using cell phones exclusively for telephone communication.
Burnett said KSP does not have the technology at this time to pinpoint calls or messages coming from a cell phone, but he expects this capability to be available in the future.
Joe P. Asher may be reached at 606-573-4510, ext. 1161 or on Twitter #joe_hde