New Jersey authorities unveil text-to-911 program

People in New Jersey will soon be able to send a text message to reach 911 emergency services under a new statewide program being rolled out.

New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino and other officials introduced the new technology Wednesday at Rutgers University.

The attorney general's office says the service allows people across the state to reach emergency services by text in addition to the phone.

"We still prefer that you call 911, rather than text if at all possible," says Attorney General Christopher Porrino. "But we recognize that there are circumstances in which people witness suspicious activity, people are in danger or people who are in desperate need of medical help who simply cannot talk, but are able to text."

Officials say it is important for those texting 911 to type the exact location of the emergency, including the address and name of the town. Citizens who may not know the address are asked to include descriptions of any nearby landmarks.

Special-needs advocates say that the new system will also benefit those who are hearing- or speech-impaired.

The unveiling was held at Rutgers to highlight the university's role in dispatching the 911 texts for residents in Middlesex County.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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