The Richmond Police Department has become the first agency in Northern California to allow residents to text emergencies to 911.
People who live in Richmond, El Cerrito, Kensington and San Pablo can now send a text to 911.
“This feature will be a valuable tool to help those unable to make a voice call,” RPD said in a statement.
“If you’re hiding in a closet and you have some assailants in a home, you don’t want to give your location up,” communications supervisor Michael Schlemmer told NBC Bay Area. “And for that, the text is going to be critical and crucial.”
Last month in San Bernardino, where the service is already offered, a hearing impaired woman texted 911 while suffering a medical emergency, and it worked.
“I can’t hear nobody on the phone,” the woman told the local NBC affiliate. “I don’t know why it popped up in my mind, 911. And I did it. So then I text them and they text back, just like that.”
Richmond police are asking local residents to educate each other on how and when to text to 911.
“Remember, text to 911 does NOT replace voice calling as the first way to reach the police department,” RPD said.
The department offered these instructions and has asked that local residents share them with each other:
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