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Phone companies offering 911 text service

(Twitter photo/@NBCNews)

PHOENIX -- Four national cellphone companies are offering a new way to report an emergency to police.

Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint are offering a service that allows customers to text 911. Doing so will route the emergency message directly to local police. The agency then gets your text along with information about your location.

The catch is that many police agencies, including those in Arizona, aren't using the system yet. One of those that has yet to adopt is the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

"It is in the works, but it's something that's going to take a long time," said Carrick Cook, public information officer for DPS.

He said that even when the system gets set up, DPS would rather have you call 911 instead of texting.

"We need to talk to people, and have them explain to us where it is," Cook said. "We may have questions for people. That's where 911 texts would not be appropriate."

Cook said it takes longer to text than to talk. He said it will likely take police longer to respond to a problem when someone texts instead of calls.

And there are also dangers with texting while driving.

"Texting is a distraction. Manipulating your phone is a distraction," said Cook. "We encourage 911 calls."

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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