Sarasota County residents can now text 911

Posted at 7:48 PM, May 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-27 20:17:51-04
This week Sarasota County joined a handful of other Florida counties that allow residents to text a message to 911. Users must type 911 into the recipient line and then type the issue/location into the message line. Dispatchers said the text will appear on their screen within twenty seconds of the resident hitting send.
"We will have a conversation on our phone system back and fourth asking questions clarifying things," said supervisor Kris Adams.
Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are compatible with the text 911 system.
Adams believes most people will still call into the 911 system, but she believes the text system could be helpful.
"The public still wants to hear of voice when they are in need I believe they will have those in the situations where they can speak," said Adams.
Advocates for domestic abuse victims are excited about this new 911 feature.  Jessica Hays is the President of Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center in Sarasota.  She said victims will use the service.
"It's not uncommon for someone to be trying to get help without the abusive partner knowing, because things could escalate or even become lethal in that case so for them to be able to text or call without the other person knowing is a really good thing," said Hays.
Pasco and Manatee Counties are also hoping to install the text to 911 technology.