Sending text messages to 911 coming soon

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Reporting an emergency will soon be as easy as sending a text message.

“It comes across on a browser and it will pop up on our computers when there is a text message just like it does now with a voice call,” said Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Maj. Charlie Williams.

Dispatch centers in Tippecanoe County will soon be able to receive text messages sent to 911. It’s a nationwide change with the four largest wireless providers AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint making it available to users beginning May 15. However, Tippecanoe County is still waiting for the software to be installed across the network.

“INdigital is the provider for all the counties in the state,” Williams said. “They will install it within our network so that Purdue, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County Sheriff and Lafayette Police Departments will be able to accept text messages for 911 calls.”

Williams said the Sheriff’s Office oversees the network used by all agencies in the county. Once up and running, text messages will come in just like phone calls.

When it comes to reporting an emergency, Williams said calling is always the better option.

“If you have an emergency, don’t text it,” Williams said. “Call us. It’s better to call us on 911 then to text. However, if you prefer to do that this will be available.”

Williams said he expects sending a text message to 911 will be an option in about two months.

There will be a countywide announcement when it is available.

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