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Text-to-9-1-1 Approved in Maricopa Region
Updated at 1:30 PM
PHOENIX (May 24, 2017)—The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Regional Council has unanimously approved a motion to fund “text-to-9-1-1” capability in Maricopa County. Text-to-9-1-1 would be a new service for those who cannot safely call 9-1-1 due to the nature of their emergency, or because they have a speech disability, are hard of hearing, or are deaf. If approved, new software will be installed at local dispatch centers in law enforcement agencies throughout the region within the next year.
“Moving forward with text-to-9-1-1 is the right thing to do,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments. “Being able to text-to-9-1-1 provides a critical lifeline to many during moments of crisis.”
Advances in technology are making this option available now, but few places in the country have implemented the new service. In Arizona, only Lake Havasu City has text-to-911 service.
Phil Pangrazio is the President and CEO of Ability 360, a local nonprofit agency with a national reputation for serving people with disabilities. “This is an important step forward,” Pangrazio says. “We are removing a very real barrier to people getting emergency services. We are giving people peace of mind and help when they need it the most.”
“For victims for whom summoning 9-1-1 is an option, having the ability to text may remove significant barriers to them doing so and may create greater opportunity to summon the help they need discreetly,” says Allie Bones, CEO of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.
Since 1985, MAG has administered the Maricopa Region 9-1-1 system with the City of Phoenix. The cities, towns, and counties work cooperatively to coordinate 9-1-1 services, including plans to enhance the system. Text-to-9-1-1 is an example of refinements being considered as a step toward Next Generation 9-1-1. Mesa serves as the main backup to the Phoenix system.
“We have been saving lives through the regional 9-1-1 system for more than 30 years. We are always looking for ways to better serve our residents. Moving to the Next Generation 9-1-1 is a priority,” says Mesa Mayor John Giles.
The MAG Executive Committee has already recommended the approval of $150,000 to buy new software that will allow people to text-to-9-1-1. If approved by the Regional Council, ongoing costs for the software would be paid by the cities and towns that belong to MAG as part of their annual assessments.
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