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Lakewood Police Department promotes new 911 texting capability

December 3, 2018

Lakewood Police Department promotes new 911 texting capability

LAKEWOOD, Ohio -- Residents in need now have another option when contacting emergency services in Lakewood. Cuyahoga Emergency Communications System (CECOMS) now accepts 911 text messages throughout Cuyahoga County.

Lakewood Police Capt. Gary Stone, who is in charge of communications, said that after a few months of testing, the service went live in mid-November.

“With the way technology has gone at breakneck speeds, this was due to come,” Stone said. “Also, I think it’s coming at the right time.”

The texting process requires the user to type 911 into the area where they would normally put a contact name when sending a message. While the text will be sent to CECOMS, the user will receive an immediate text message asking where the emergency is located.

When the user indicates that the emergency is occurring in Lakewood, the text message will be sent to Lakewood Emergency Dispatch.

CECOMS Manager Lisa Raffurty said that only recently did the texting system program reach its full capacity.

“The only difference is before we were using software, which resided on the same computer as our 911 system, but it wasn’t interfaced into our system,” Raffurty said. “Now all of the records of that particular call or text are all right within our 911 system.”

So far, the Lakewood Police Department hasn’t received a 911 text.

“I think it’s a good service,” Raffurty said. “We were initially focusing on the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, but you hear about people hiding in the closet during a home invasion and they’re unable to call, or thrown into the trunk of a car and on their way to who knows where.

“We think it’s a great public service, but we still want people to call if they can. Our motto is, call if you can, text if you can’t,” Raffurty said.

As far as 911 texts including photos or videos, Raffurty said the current system doesn’t offer that capability.

“As we replace our aging infrastructure and towers, somewhere along the line it’ll happen, but not right now,” Raffurty said.

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