CENTERVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) – Your mobile device just got a little more useful. Centerville Police said Thursday the dispatch center for the Centerville Police Department can now accept text messages through its 911 system. Anyone within the City limits of Centerville and West Carrollton can now text directly with 911 dispatchers for help.

“Voice 911 calls are still preferred, but texting offers another option for those with hearing impairments or who cannot safely call 911. It is best to remember call when you can, text when you can’t,” Centerville Police Department Chief Matt Brown said.

To use the texting feature, the texter needs to enter “911” in the To field of a new text message and include the location and nature of the emergency in the message field. The texter should expect to answer additional questions from the 911 dispatcher until help arrives.

CPD said texts sent from outside the boundaries of Centerville or West Carrollton, the sender will receive an auto-populated response indicating the service is not available. It is then recommended to make a voice 911 call.

“Protecting the safety of our community is the most critical responsibility of the City of Centerville. We never want residents and visitors to experience emergencies, but they should know if they do, the Centerville Police Department is doing everything it can to provide flexible, expedient help,” Centerville City Council Member Bill Serr said.

“I am pleased to know our dispatch center will be using the text-to-911 system. Our hearing and speech-impaired population will greatly benefit from this method of communication,” West Carrollton Fire Chief Chris Barnett said.

CPD said the program is partially funded through a Federal 911 Grant, which was awarded as a sub-grant through Montgomery County.