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9-1-1: Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Bob Dancer for sending along this information.)

Voice Calls to 9-1-1 Are Still the Best and Fastest Way to Contact 9-1-1 but you can now text 9-1-1 in Washtenaw County.

Sheriff Jerry L. Clayton recently announced that the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Metro Dispatch Center in partnership with all Washtenaw County 911 centers and police agencies has initiated Text-to-9-1-1 service for all cities/jurisdictions in Washtenaw County.

The system integration of this important initiative is funded by the Emergency Communication Mileage passed by the voters in Washtenaw County. 

Dispatch center officials have been developing operational protocols for months and began testing the program in early November 2021.

Wireless customers can now send a text to 9-1-1 in an emergency. Due to inherent delays in Short Message Service (SMS) communications, Text-to-911 should only be used in an emergency situation when placing a call is not possible. For instance, if the caller is deaf, hard-of-hearing, speech impaired, or when speaking out loud would put the caller in danger. When seconds matter, a voice call to 9-1-1 is the best and fastest way for the 9-1-1 call taker to receive and deliver life-saving information. A text message may take longer.  

If there is an emergency and you are unable to make a call, remember these steps:  

  • Don’t text and drive.  
  • Enter the numbers 911 in the “To” field – do not use dashes.  
  • Text in simple words – do not use abbreviations or slang.  
  • Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.  
  • Do not delete the message or turn off your phone until the 9-1-1 call taker concludes the conversation. 

Don’t Abuse 9-1-1 – Text-to-9-1-1 service is ONLY for emergencies.  

It is a crime to text or call 9-1-1 with a false report. 

The Text-to-911 service will have some challenges.  

  • A text or data plan is required to place a Text-to-9-1-1.  
  • As with all text messages, messages to 9-1-1 may take longer to receive, may get out of order, or may not be received at all.  
  • If you do not receive a text response from 9-1-1, try to contact 9-1-1 another way.  
  • Photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1 at this time.  
  • Text-to-9-1-1 cannot include more than one person. Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than 9-1-1.  

Voice Calls to 9-1-1 Are Still the Best and Fastest Way to Contact 9-1-1. 

Text-to-9-1-1 service is not available everywhere in Michigan and the United States. If you try to text-to-9-1-1 and the service is not available, you will receive a bounce back message advising you to make a voice call to 9-1-1. 

Participating Washtenaw County agencies/police jurisdictions:  

  • Ann Arbor Police  
  • Chelsea Police  
  • Department of Natural Resources  
  • Eastern Michigan University Police  
  • Huron Clinton Metroparks Authority  
  • Huron Valley Ambulance (Medical and Fire Dispatch Services)  
  • Michigan State Police  
  • Milan Police  
  • Northfield Township Police  
  • Saline Police  
  • Pittsfield Township Police  
  • University of Michigan Police  
  • Washtenaw Community College Police  
  • Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office  
  • Ypsilanti Police 

For more information you may contact your local dispatch center administration. Inquiries specific to Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Metro Dispatch Center, you may contact Dispatch Operations Manager Jeff Poinier at [email protected] or (734) 222-3927. 


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