CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As society communicates more and more in the virtual world of text messages it only made sense for law enforcement and emergency officials to follow along. The Kanawha County Commission has approved funding for new software which will enable county Metro 911 operators to receive text messages from those in an emergency.
“We feel that will be an advantage to the public because there are certain circumstances, like domestic violence, kidnapping and other times where they can’t talk on the phone, but they’ll be able to text 911,” said Kanawha County Sheriff and 911 Director John Rutherford. “It will come straight into 911 the same as a phone call and dispatchers will be able to text back to those individuals.”
Kanawha County would be the first to have text to 911 in West Virginia.
There have already been a few cases in Kanawha County where those in danger were able to communicate with law enforcement via Facebook. Rutherford said this is another layer of protection using modern technology.
“On a personal note, I was kidnapped many years ago and in the trunk of a car,” said Rutherford. “With texting you’ll be able to text 911 and let them know what has occurred. You’ll be able to get word to authorities without having to talk and the person who has been attacking not knowing you’ve contacted 911.”
Rutherford expected the system to be in place by May to begin receiving the emergency texts at the 911 center.
The county commission approved $60,000 in funding at its Tuesday night meeting.