Harris County Adds Text-to-911 Service

Sep. 24, 2014Houston Public Media

The Greater Harris County 911 Emergency Network is adding the text-to-911 service. It’s being made available to Verizon and T-Mobile subscribers.

Sonya Clauson with 9-11 says the service is keeping up with the communication technology.

“Thirty years ago, cellphones were barely a blip on the radar, and now over 80-percent of calls to 9-1-1 are from cellphones,” said Clauson.

Texting-to-911 is considered a lifeline, especially in cases where it’s too dangerous to talk, or a person with disabilities is not able to make a voice call.

“Remember these steps: In the “to” or “recipient” field, enter 911, that’s 911 with no dashes, then text your location. Text what emergency help is needed, and remember send a short message. No abbreviations or slang. Be sure to answer all questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker,” said Clauson.

Major Edwin Davis with the Harris County Sheriff’s Department calls the new service a great tool for law enforcement.

“When you have like a hostage situation, or a home invasion, or something of that nature, the person where they don’t want to hear have their voice articulated out, they can use the text message and get it to dispatchers in a hurry. It’s a great asset,” said Davis.

The message will appear on the dispatcher’s screen and the message will be forwarded to units on the street. The text-to-911 feature is only for emergencies and officials warn anyone who abuses it will be located and charged with a misdemeanor.