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Greater Phoenix Now Has Text To 911 Option

People in the greater Phoenix area can now text a 911 call center in an emergency. But that doesn’t mean everyone should text. A coalition of city governments in Maricopa County rolled out the service on Monday, along with the slogan: “Call if you can. Text if you can’t.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said calling is best, since there are still some capabilities the texting service doesn’t have, such as automatically finding a texter’s location.

“You will need to type out your location to a 911 operator,” Stanton said at a Monday press conference. “The system cannot handle group texts, it’s important to note. And finally, there is no language translation capability at this time.”

Twenty-six 911 call centers will use the service. The technology cost $150,000.

Advocates for people with disabilities see this as a huge step. Terry Guy of Tempe said she’s been working on getting Text to 911 for three years.

“As a speaking deaf individual, this will allow me to reach out for services and know the first responders will receive the correct information,” she said.

Stanton said it could be a vital service for people in an active shooter situation, or for victims of domestic violence who are too afraid to make a phone call.

Bret Jaspers was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2017 to 2020.