Shelby Co. 911 texting could save lives of domestic violence victims

Shelby Co. 911 texting could save lives of domestic violence victims

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Those who work closely with victims and survivors of domestic violence say a new 911 texting feature in Shelby County is life-saving.

"I truly believe that lives will be saved,” said YWCA Greater Memphis Executive Director Marquiepta Odom. “Some of our clients have talked about, ‘I just wish I would have been able to text. I would have been gone way before now, but I had to wait until the opportunity to where he left me alone.’”

The YWCA Greater Memphis offers a number of programs, the largest being it’s domestic violence and safe haven. The organization helps those who are facing domestic violence situations get back on their feet and is an all-inclusive domestic violence shelter.

Texting 911 in Shelby County now available

On Monday, the sheriff’s office announced those living near or in unincorporated areas of the county can now text dispatch instead of call.

Memphis police rolled out the texting feature in April of last year. In 2019, the Memphis Police Department worked 16,803 domestic violence cases.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office received nearly 4,500 domestic violence-related calls in 2019.

"Not being able to communicate in a time that your life is at risk is vital. It’s vital,” said CasaLuz Founder and Executive Director Ines Negrette.

Negrette says CasaLuz is the first and only non-profit in the Memphis and Shelby County area that specifically serves Hispanic victims of violent crimes like domestic violence and sexual assault.

"The high majority of our clients don’t speak English and so far the system is just in English,” said Negrette.

As of right now, the 911 texting feature is only available in English. A spokesperson with the county’s emergency communications system says they are working to expand the feature to all languages.

Officials still encourage people to call dispatch instead of text if they’re able to.

If someone calls dispatch and would like to speak to someone in a different language, they can be transferred to someone who is bilingual.

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