Residents in need of emergency assistance can soon send a text message to contact the 911 call center.
The Newport News Police Department is implementing the Text-to-911 option.
The text option is for those who are deaf, hard of hearing, mute or can’t speak safely in certain situations such as an abduction, domestic violence and active shooter, according to a news release from the city.
“The Newport News Police Department, NNPD, wants residents to know, in the event of an emergency, citizens you should still voice call 911 if you can,” according to the news release. “By calling, dispatchers can gather more information, listen for distress in a caller’s voice and gather background information – all important information for first responders when going to an emergency.”
Residents who use the text options must provide their location, explain the emergency situation and if possible, answer questions from the dispatcher.
The department also asks residents to not send photos or videos via the text message program and not send the text to other people since the messages can only include one person.
The Newport News Police Department will announce when the program is fully operational. For more information, visit the city’s website.
Other localities, such as Virginia Beach, are also part of the Text-to-911 program.
WYDaily reached out to the Hampton and Williamsburg Police departments as well as the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s office to see if they use the program or planned on implementing something similar.
“We don’t have anything like that yet,” said Amanda Moreland, spokeswoman for the Hampton Police Department.
“We’ve had it for a couple years now,” said Shelley Ward, spokeswoman with the YPSO.
According to the Federal Communication Commission’s Text 911 Master PSAP Registry, the James City County Emergency Communications and the York-Poquoson-Williamsburg 911 Center have been participating in the program since 2015.