East Texas law enforcement sees 'texts to 911' in near future

East Texas law enforcement sees 'texts to 911' in near future
Source: Alpharetta DPS Facebook
Source: Alpharetta DPS Facebook

EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - A Georgia woman saved two small children left in a car alone at a shopping center, but the way she got in contact with 911 dispatchers is surprising. Local law enforcement said the technology she used to get a hold of them will be in East Texas in the near future.

Miles away, the Georgia woman witnessed two kids in a car at a shopping center unattended. Having kids of her own, she thought she should seek help.

The woman who was able to get in contact with law enforcement happened to have impaired hearing, but she pulled out her cell phone and sent a text to 911.

"In the future hopefully within the next year or two we will have that capability," said Ashley Jowell, the Communications Supervisor at Lufkin Police Department.

"Texting capability is something we see coming, but of course technology has to catch up with itself," said Sgt. Greg Sowell, Public Information Officer at Nacogdoches Police Department.

East Texas authorities said they do have ways to communicate with those who can't hear.

"If a hearing impaired person calls in using a device, they can communicate with them immediately," Sowell said.

"TDD or TTY is already a feature on every phone system," Jowell said.

It's those sticky scenarios that make picking up the phone and calling difficult.

"In emergency scenarios such as burglaries in progress where someone is hiding in the closet, texting saying 'hey we're on our way' without putting your life in danger," Jowell said.

Domestic abuse, kidnap, even those with speech disabilities would benefit from the feature. Testing is being done, but the feature is not yet available in Deep East Texas counties. The Federal Communications Commission is urging more counties to get the feature.

"It works, I mean that's why it's out there. If we can get it right on so our response, time will be greatly improved," Jowell said.

Alpharetta Department of Public Safety said the children were not harmed and were left in the car by a 15-year-old sitter. The department posted the text thread on Facebook. It has over 13 thousand shares.

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