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With the advent of social media leading more people to send information to others by text message instead of making a phone call, the Paris Police Department with assistance from the city’s Information Technology Department has put together a system where our citizens can text information or non-emergency calls for service to our dispatch center. The program has been named ‘text2protect’ and will be available July 1st, 2014.
The text2protect number to be used for texting the Paris Police Department is 903-689-2706.
Texting or actually SMS (short message service) is a widely used communications tool in this day and age. Studies have shown that during disasters or high visibility incidents, voice lines may become unavailable due to the number of calls being made. SMS uses such a small portion of bandwidth, texting continues to work during these extreme conditions.
Please be sure not to confuse the ‘text2protect’ program with texting to 9-1-1. The ability to send a text to 9-1-1 operators will be available in our area at some point in time, but most probably not for another couple of years. Any incident that would lead a person to contact 9-1-1, should be made by a voice call.
Chief of Police Bob Hundley states, “We understand the dynamics of technology and want to make any form of communication with our citizens available. A lot of people use text messaging instead of calling. If that is their chosen form of communication, we want to have a capability to communicate. There are a number of police departments around the country that are using a program such as this, I think we may be the first in our area to accept text messages in our communications center.”
Texting is not much different from how we communicate with citizens daily, just in a different format. Texting the police department should be used for non-emergency types of complaints or concerns. The caller is not anonymous as the phone number will display in the text message much in the same way it does on voice calls through caller ID. It will not show the location as calls through the 9-1-1 system do. This is one of the reasons that emergency situations should still be reported by voice call on 9-1-1. Information for a call for service will still need an address, information about what is going on, suspect descriptions, vehicle descriptions etc. It is also important to understand that people using the service are making official reports to a law enforcement agency. That means bogus calls, abusive calls or harassment of the system operators can and will become a criminal offense.
The other concern we have with this new capability for the department’s communications centers on texting and driving. Texting while driving is inherently dangerous. The person completing the text is most certainly looking at the device and not at the road or the driving environment around the vehicle. We always ask that people do not text and drive. Please remember the law prohibits texting and driving while in a school zone.
The department would much rather have information come to us by voice telephone calls, as talking with a person is more efficient, timely and usually results in a better exchange of information.
We remind our citizens that CrimeStoppers tips can also be sent to CrimeStoppers via text to 274637 (CRIMES).
This service should be used only in non-emergency situations but we understand that texting may attract less attention than talking on the phone. Our communications personnel have a priority answering protocol which is 9-1-1 lines first, radio traffic, administrative lines, text messages and then intercom lines.