New Jersey Residents Can Now Text 9-1-1 In An Emergency

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — People in New Jersey will be able to send a text message to reach 911 emergency services under a new statewide program.

New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino and other officials introduced the new technology Wednesday at Rutgers University.

The attorney general’s office said the service allows people across the state to reach emergency services by text in addition to voice calls.

Homeland Security director Christopher Rodriguez thinks the ability to text is critical in certain situations. During the Orlando nightclub shooting, victims put themselves at risk when calling 911.

“In the event that the unthinkable were to happen here in New Jersey, citizens would be able to safely and quietly text information to law enforcement and first responders,” Rodriguez said.

“In an abduction situation or another emergency where remaining silent is critical to that person’s safety, it allows that individual to text 911, provide his or her location, and get the emergency response he or she needs,” Porrino told 1010 WINS.

Even with this technology, Porrino said a voice call is preferred.

“With a voice to voice call, dispatchers can hear what’s going on in the background,” Porrino said.

There is not yet technology for videos or photos.

There is now one text dispatch center in every New Jersey county, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.

Rutgers hosted the event to highlight the university’s role in dispatching the 911 texts for residents in Middlesex County. The state’s Division of Deaf and Hard of Hearing was also there to share the news to those with hearing loss.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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