Although law enforcement officials don’t want it to be the first option, citizens in nine Kansas City metro area counties, including Platte County, will be able to text 911 by the end of the month. The service will go live some time in February, but there is no firm date for the service, according to Capt. Erik Holland of the Platte County Sheriff’s Office. The Mid-America Regional Council coordinates the Kansas City Regional 9-1-1 System, which handles almost two million emergency calls each year.
A press conference is planned for later this month to provide more details once the service goes live.
“One of the things we’re making sure citizens are aware of is the text should not be the first option for 911,” Holland said. “If they’re able to make a voice call, that’s what we prefer they do. It’s much faster to get all the information that we need through the calls than exchanging texts.”
However, the text program will offer service for a number of scenarios where a person might not be in position to make a 911 call.
This could include a person without access to cell service but who can still text, a person who does not want to alert a suspect or a person in a situation where loud noises are prevalent. Deaf individuals could also benefit and would no longer need to seek assistance to contact emergency personnel.
However, the series of questions that are standard to the 911 system move a lot faster during a voice conversation, according to Holland.
The system will not accept images or videos, and users will be asked not use abbreviations or emoticons. Holland said that specific information will be important for a prompt response. This type of setup will be consistent with other agencies around the country already employing a text service. Counties in Missouri that are a part of the program are Ray, Platte, Clay, Jackson and Cass, while those in Kansas are Wyandotte, Leavenworth, Johnson, and Miami.
MARC will host the press conference but details have not been provided on when or where it will occur.