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Florida Sheriff's Office Launches Text Messaging Service

Date: 2010-12-27
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Texting 9-1-1: 'New number is for serious situations, but should not be your first option,' sheriff says

The Marion County (FL) Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) has launched a service that will enable citizens to text the agency for help in an emergency by texting their 9-1-1 center.  The system, which was developed in house, enables urgent text messages to be received and handled by a system that is separate from the agency’s 9-1-1 system. Messages are displayed on a dedicated screen.

In a statement to the county, Marion County Sheriff Ed Dean said, “This new number is for serious situations, but should not be your first option. In an emergency, call 9-1-1. If callers are in a situation in which they cannot dial 9-1-1 to speak, they can now text an urgent message to the communications center using this new number. By providing this new number, MCSO is embracing the latest evolving technology in communication. These days, there are more wireless phones in use than land-line phones. Therefore, there is a growing need to provide additional options for reaching the Marion County Communication Center.”

The agency is the first in Florida to provide this service. The set-up costs for the system were less than $1,000, and monthly maintenance is less than $50.  The department calls it a plan that allows people to use yet another resource to reach MCSO during serious incidents.

To find out more about the system, visit

- People, Places & Things/9-1-1 Magazine (via APCO, Aug 12, 2010)


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