Text-to-911 service aims to help protect Indiana college students

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

By Marisela Burgos

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Sept. 30, 2014)-- College students will be able to text police information about an emergency or text them a tip from campus.

The text-to-911 service is becoming available to students across campuses in Indiana. For example, the Indiana Statewide 911 Board said the program is currently accessible to students who attend Ball State University in Muncie and Indiana University in Bloomington. In those cases, Executive Director Barry Ritter said the text messages are immediately directed to the local dispatch center -first.

“Indiana is the lead across the country with the largest employment of text-to-911 services. It’s that additional means of communication in an emergency," Ritter said.Tippecanoe County will roll out the service October 7, Purdue University Police Chief John Cox said.

Chief Cox said Purdue students will be able to text information and it will go directly to the Purdue University Police Department.

“We’ll be able to get good information hopefully from folks that are out in the community, (plus from) witnesses that typically wouldn’t step up and want to be involved (or) anything like that. The more information we can receive, the better we can save the public," Chief Cox said.

Purdue University Freshman Aaron Ashby likes that this is a discreet way to give authorities critical information. Ashby said he would use the service, once it is available.

“I think it’s good. Yeah, they have the phone thing that you push the button, but it’s spread out," Ashby said.

Chief Cox said he cannot wait to start the service. Right now, their system allows their dispatchers the ability to text callers, but only after a dropped call or they have been contacted.

“We might have a situation where somebody is standing outside and watching a crime occur and they don’t want to act like they’re talking on the phone and they’ll simply text it to us. The opportunities are endless. We just have to see how it (works)," Chief Cox said.

The Indiana Statewide 911 Board plans to put together awareness campaigns to educate students about the text-to-911 service.