Police at ASU expected to go high-tech with emergency messaging

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Calling 9-1-1 isn't always an option for people, and in some cases it can make the situation even more dangerous. 3TV shows us why texting could be the new tool for one Valley police department in the fight against crimes.

9-1-1 is the number everyone knows to call when faced with a life threatening situation.
“There was a time you could only contact the police, was you wait for the beat cop to walk down and you said, ‘Hey, I know who is stealing apples from Joe's market,'” ASU Police Department Cmdr. Jim Hardina said. “We then saw telephones [introduced] to radios in the car and then we added 911.”

In order to keep up with technology, contacting police is expected to go high-tech at least at Arizona State University.  
“Because this is new, no department in the state of Arizona has a text messaging service to contact police,” Hardina said. “So we would work the bugs out and figure out the best way to use it.”

You heard right, a text messaging service to report crimes. The ASU Police Department wants to start off by using it for non-emergency calls.
“Typically when you call the police now, you would call 911 or you would dial the non-emergency number,” Hardina said. “While with text messaging you would have a four or five digit code that you text into the police department.”

“The dispatcher in our center would have a screen that would pop up and it would be kind of like an instant message or a chart where they would type and you would talk back and forth on the screen,” Hardina continued.

He believes there are several benefits to texting. One is more people will report crimes because they can remain anonymous.

“Of course not every kind of crime you would want to report by text messaging, but I think that once you give someone a different option, it's more likely people will be contacting the police,” Hardina said.

Two is it may be useful in a situation when talking on the phone is  dangerous.

“There may be certain incidences on campus or anywhere you don't want to call the police on the phone, when you could be underneath the desk and say, 'Hey this is what's going on,’” Hardina said.

So how do ASU students feel about texting in suspicious activity?

“I think it could be useful depending on the nature of the crime,” ASU freshman Dane Gay said.

“On a crime scene and you text someone, they can't hear your voice which would be good,” ASU sophomore Juliana Scholle said.

“If let’s say you are in a situation where you can't call, like I immediately thought of a bank robbery,” ASU freshman Randal Collins said. “Someone is not going to talk on the phone because there are guys with guns.”

“It could be useful and faster, as long as the service is quick,” ASU sophomore Devan Arcangeli said.

No word on when the text messaging service will be in place. The ASU Police Department still needs to get funding.