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Texting 911 now an option in Charlotte County

Posted at 10:48 PM, Feb 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-09 07:19:01-05

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - Ever wondered if you could just text 911? Now, you can in Charlotte County.

The Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday that people can text them if they're in a dangerous situation or are unable to hear or speak during an emergency.

This comes just over a week after a woman was kidnaped and nearly killed at the hand of her boyfriend in rural Charlotte County.

She had to whisper to dispatchers as Joshua Tanner, 43, tried to set the camper she was in on fire, according to deputies. 

Tanner was charged with attempted murder in that case.

Here are some things to remember from Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office:

  1. Text to 911 has several limitations and therefore making a voice call when possible is always the best option. (Remember the motto… Call if you can, text if you can’t) Here are some tips to remember when texting 911.
  2. As with any call to 911, providing the address of the emergency is the most important information you can provide in an emergency. Without it could mean a delayed response or no response at all.
  3. When communicating with 911, use plain language. No abbreviations, shortcuts or slang.  Using abbreviations can hinder the meaning of the message. Not all parties have the same understanding when it comes to abbreviations.
  4. Do not send group messages. When texting 911, do not add other individuals to the text. Typically, the carriers strip the additional parties from the call, so save some time and do not add additional parties.
  5. Some carriers are able to send pictures with the call however not all carriers have this capability. If you have questions concerning carrier capabilities, contact your carrier.
  6. There is no guarantee that a message will be sent or received. This will be dependent on your carrier coverage in your area.
  7. Messages may be received out of order.
  8. Text message communication takes longer than a voice call.  It can take anywhere between 4-6 seconds longer than a voice call.
  9. You must have a cell phone with service to text 911.
  10. Not all counties throughout the State of Florida have text to 911 Services.  If you enter a county that does not have text service and attempt to make a text to 911 call, you will receive a bounce back message.
  11. Misuse of the 911 system by either voice or text is strictly prohibited per FSS 365.172.
  12. Do not text and drive. If you need to reach 911 via text, pull off to the side of the road in a safe place and make initiate the text call.

Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and Punta Gorda Police 911 call centers are now able to receive text messages. You can also text 911 in Collier County. 

It’s unclear if Lee County is working on a similar option.