Stop Facebook messaging the RCPD in the case of an emergency - call 9-1-1

Published: Nov. 8, 2018 at 9:19 PM CST
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The Rapid City Police Department said at least one person a day reports a crime through facebook messager instead of calling 9-11.

But the assistant Chief of police wants to stress the fact that their social media accounts are not connected to dispatch.

"There was one that stuck out to me where somebody was trying to report an assault that was happening at their neighbor's house, and since there wasn't an immediate response by law enforcement because of the social media platform they were then prompted to call 9-11," the Assistant Chief of police said.

There is an automated response only after 5 o'clock that reads, "If this is an emergency call 9-1-1" but during working hours people aren't always aware of what this service should be used for.

Facebook and Twitter messaging should only be utilized for non-emergency situations like leaving an anonymous tip about a neighborhood drug dealer or complimenting an officer on their service.

But dispatchers are aware of this phenomenon and are in the works of implementing a text-to-911 service.

Sara Smith the communications director for the dispatch center said, "I'm not surprised that a lot of people are used to using the internet rather than using their phones now."

Text to 9-11 is currently being used in almost 2,000 counties around the U.S.

Although non-verbal emergency reports can be useful, for example, in domestic violence situations where people are being threatened by someone else in the room, dispatch reminds people that calling 9-1-1 will always be the best and most efficient way to get help.

Smith said, "Predominantly people have the time and the capability of picking up the phone and calling us and that it is still their best option to get a proper response in a shorter amount of time."