Amherst Police Now Accepts Text Messages Into Dispatch
The Amherst Police Department is pleased to announce that we are now accepting text messages directly into our dispatch center. Your tips and non-emergency questions can be sent directly to the dispatcher on duty who has the ability to respond as time permits.
For many, texting has become a primary and convenient way of communicating. When someone has a quick question or is seeking information, society has accepted texting as a quick and efficient way to communicate.
Like many medium sized police departments, the Amherst Police Department’s dispatch center is sometimes only staffed with one dispatcher who is juggling multiple calls for service and police radio traffic. By utilizing text messaging in a police dispatch center, it offers the community another way to contact the police department with their questions and minor concerns instead of taking the time to call in.
The Amherst Police Department answers calls for the utilities department after hours and on weekends and holidays. This amounts to 74% of the year and creates an increased obligation on the dispatcher during times of power outages, water main breaks, and storm related issues. When the utilities (water, electric) go out in a neighborhood, it is not uncommon for the dispatch center to receive numerous calls at one time. Callers report the utility outage, ask when the utility will be restored, and often call back to inquire how much longer before the utility is restored. The same holds true for storm related issues. Receiving multiple calls from several residents while a dispatcher is trying to make outgoing calls to contact the utility workers to get services restored, while dealing with priority police radio traffic is very challenging. Non-emergency callers may be placed on hold for long periods of time when they only want to ask a simple question or report a minor problem. Both can be trying for the caller and the dispatcher. Texting will help alleviate this challenge.
Amherst residents, business owners and customers of Amherst utilities are strongly encouraged to text their non-emergency questions and minor concerns into the police dispatch center instead of calling.
Because citizens do not generally know when our dispatchers are extremely busy, there are several other questions and situations we encourage the public to text us:
- What time is trick or treat, parades, Christmas tree lighting, etc.?
- What time is curfew?
- Checking to see if an accident report is completed and/or ready for release.
- Checking if a public records request is ready to be picked up
- Citizens who are hearing and/or speech impaired.
Besides texting the dispatch center with minor questions, you may text us with minor concers, information or complaints that are not an emergency. Some examples of these are:
- Minor parking complaints.
- Area utility outages
- Traffic control devices that are not working properly
- Storm related damage that needs a city worker’s attention (the city will determine the need for immediate attention)
- Minor safety concerns
- Building code violations
- Minor nuisance calls, such as barking dogs or loud music.
- Dead animals on the side of the road
- If a particular officer is on duty that you would like to talk to
Residents are encouraged to text any of the above complaints or concerns. If it is a minor complaint where an officer is needed to respond, the dispatcher may text you back requesting more information including your name, address as if you called in. Or, if the issue you are reporting is more than minor, you may be asked to call into the dispatch desk or a dispatcher may call you.
There is no doubt that school aged children are more willing to text information they would not normally report in person. Many students become aware of information and situations they do not want to tell a teacher or police officer in person even though the issue may be an important safety concern. Large posters will be placed throughout the high school and junior high school encouraging students to text the police department with tips and information.
- Drug activity tips
- Alcohol activity tips
- Known underage drinking parties
- Planned fights
- Tips on recent crimes such as thefts, vandalism, and drug sales
- Concealed weapons tips
- Concerns for others (suicidal thoughts, depression)
When you do text our dispatch center, please give the dispatcher several minutes to respond. If you do not get a response in a reasonable amount of time, please call one of our non-emergency phone lines.
A note of caution:
- Do not text emergency situations where immediate police response is necessary. Please call 440-988-2625 or 911 if it is an emergency.
- Please do not text our police dispatch center (or anyone) while driving. Your minor questions or concerns can wait until you can safely send a text message.
- Any phantom or bogus texts will be dealt with through criminal means and seizure of your electronic device as evidence will likely occur.
TEXT US AT: 440-988-4422