Gwinnett residents will (eventually) be able to text 911


By this time next year, Gwinnett County residents may be able to send emergency text messages to 911. 

The county’s Board of Commissioners approved Tuesday a $615,000 contract that will allow the Gwinnett police department to upgrade its current 911 call-handling  system. Deputy Chief Brett West said during the commission meeting that the upgrade would take the current analog system and make it digital — while also supporting text-to-911 services, which are meant as a back-up to voice calls.

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Gwinnett police spokesman Sgt. Jake Smith said that Gwinnett does not currently have text-to-911 capabilities but a partial implementation, meant largely to serve the deaf community, “could happen in early 2019.” 

Full implementation, he said, would likely not happen until the following summer or fall.

The majority of cities and counties across the country still do not offer text-to-911, though its popularity is growing. 

Cobb County has had text-to-911 since Sept. 2015, a spokesman said, and has received nearly 1,300 texts to its call center in the years since. 

Officials said Fulton County is in the process of implementing emergency texts for residents of its unincorporated area and the cities of South Fulton, Union City, Chattahoochee Hills, Fairburn and Palmetto. 

The cities of Roswell, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton and Sandy Springs all already offer the service, they said.

DeKalb officials said that county is also in the process of implementing text-to-911.

—Staff writers Arielle Kass, Meris Lutz and Tia Mitchell contributed to this article.

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