(MINEOLA, N.Y.) – Nassau County Legislator Delia-DeRiggi-Whitton (D – Glen Cove) has introduced legislation which would make it possible for residents to text 911 in emergency situations.Currently, the only way for Nassau residents to reach 911 is by a phone call. Under Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton’s proposal, Nassau County would develop and implement around-the-clock text-to-911 capabilities for the first time – a feature that could be utilized by people who are Deaf or hard of hearing; have limited English proficiency; or need to reach authorities discreetly, such as in an active shooter, hostage, or domestic violence crisis. Anyone who misuses text to 911 would be subject to the same penalties as those who misuse 911 by phone.Implementation of the program would be overseen by the Commissioner of the Nassau County Police Department and the Nassau County Fire Marshal, with feedback and guidance from disability rights advocates including but not limited to the Nassau County Disability Advisory Council.Text to 911 is already live in numerous New York State counties, including Suffolk, Ulster, Niagara, and Putnam Counties. Separately, Nassau County must implement a program by Sept. 15, 2023, under the terms of a May 2023 settlement in a case alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.“It is essential for our emergency response capabilities to keep up with the latest technology so that our courageous first responders can protect public safety to the best of their abilities,” Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton said. “Not only will implementing text to 911 accomplish that goal, it gives Nassau County residents a powerful and discrete, and accessible tool for alerting police officers to a crisis. I am sure that launching a text to 911 program will save lives, provide language access capabilities, and give us all a little extra peace of mind in a tumultuous world.”Hours after filing her proposal, the County administration filed clerk item A-23-23, a $106,417 purchase order with the Intergraph Corporation for a custom interface to launch Nassau’s text to 911 interface which will automatically transfer text message 911-related information to the Nassau County Police Department’s current Computer Aided Dispatch system.Paired with the looming court deadline, this action places text-to-911 on track for approval during the Nassau County Legislature’s next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Aug. 7.
Click here to read filed clerk item A-23-23.
Click here to read proposed local law 253-23.