‘Text-to-911’ unanimously approved in Maricopa County

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Text-to-911 was unanimously approved in Maricopa County. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Text-to-911 was unanimously approved in Maricopa County. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Text-to-911 will help people who can't call 9-1-1 because the nature of their emergency, or people with a speech or hearing disability. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Text-to-911 will help people who can't call 9-1-1 because the nature of their emergency, or people with a speech or hearing disability. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Those who cannot safely call 9-1-1 due to the nature of their emergency, or because they have a speech or hearing disability, have a new service to reach police.

A motion to fund “text-to-911” capabilities in Maricopa County was unanimously approved by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Regional Council.

If approved, new software will be installed at local dispatch centers in law enforcement agencies throughout the region within the next year according to MAG.

Advances in technology have made this service available now. However, few places have implemented the service. In Arizona, only Lake Havasu has text-to-911 service.

“Moving forward with text-to-911 is the right thing to do,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments in a news release. “Being able to text-to-911 provides a critical lifeline to many during moments of crisis.”

Phil Pangrazio, President and CEO of Ability 360, said this is an important step forward for people with hearing or speech disabilities.

“We are removing a very real barrier to people getting emergency services,” said Pangrazio in a news release. “We are giving people peace of mind and help when they need it the most.”

The MAG Executive Committee also recommended the approval of $150,000 to buy new software that will allow people to text-to-911. If approved by the Regional Council, ongoing costs for the software would be paid by the cities and towns that belong to MAG as part of their annual assessments, said MAG.

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