Calling 911 Old-fashioned? Then Text in 2013

Need emergency help? — Call 911.

Want to text instead? — You can’t.

Nope.

Sorry.

But that doesn’t seem right in this age of digital communication. In fact, today’s youngest tech generation takes pride in never “calling”. Texting is where it’s at.

But this week, the Big Four of cell phone companies came to an agreement with the FCC to move toward Text-to-911 service throughout the US by mid-2014. And Verizon should have it in 2013 .

The FCC has been pushing for this since 2010. And England has had this for a few years (although it is geared toward people who can’t use a phone due to hearing or speech problems. In the US, Verizon has conducted trials in Vermont and North Carolina this year and Sprint just started a test in Vermont. Canada tried this out in several locations early in 2012.

While it may seem most useful to those with special hearing or speech needs, text or other mobile options are sometimes all people have when their phone battery is low or in other emergencies. But there’s a generational effect, and one that could increasingly cross all generations, as shown by the 2009 incident in Australia where two girls updated a Facebook page about being trapped in a storm drain as well as examples of people Tweeting for help instead of calling. In a panic, it’s quite possible people will increasingly turn to what they use most – texting – instead of attempting to call.

Text-to-911 is just one example of the many improvements the 911 system continues to make. Click here for more.

Be Safe.

Surviving a Burglary?

It’s always best to try to prevent burglary. But some recent incidents have made me think more about what I call Burglary Survival.

Your chances of being burglarized are actually very small. But odds are not a comfort if you ARE burglarized. It’s completely awful to come home and find that some hoodlum has broken in and taken valuables.

So in addition to trying to prevent a burglary, there are some things you can do to help survive a burglary if you suffer one.

> Check your Insurance & get a floater for valuables
>Collect serial numbers
>Take photos of unique items
>Engrave your belongings with a unique number

Your homeowner’s insurance probably won’t cover expensive jewelry or unique items like silver – or will have a set limit on their replacement value. The way around this is to cover specific items with a floater or addendum to your policy. And speaking of replacement, find out what your policy says about the level at which items will be replaced – your policy will say whether you will receive current cash value or replacement cost. For example, your t.v. may not cost much anymore and nothing near what a replacement will cost you.

If you have family heirlooms that aren’t appraised or a collection, say of books, that you don’t have receipts for, take pictures or video’s and keep them safe so you can prove you owned them at the time of the break-in.

Take pictures of jewelry since they don’t have serial numbers.

Take some time this Saturday to collect the manuals or warranty cards or receipts for your t.v., stereo, laptop, iPod dock, etc, so you can report them after a break-in. You won’t get anything back unless the serial numbers can be tracked by police.

Hide your spare check books and shred old financial records.

Don’t write passwords down and keep them near your computer. Do hide a list of your credit cards along with the 800 number on the back so you can cancel them right away.

Finally, consider doing a Home Inventory

I hope you never have a burglary. But take these easy steps to make a burglary survivable and not a nightmare.

Share your thoughts and stay safe!

A Family of More Than 100

As Police Memorial Week has finished for another year, I’d like to thank the 100 Club of Arizona for its wonderful support of Arizona Law Enforcement and Firefighter families.

The 100 Club was started with the idea of getting 100 people to contribute to the fund for a fallen police officer.

Today, the 100 Club of Arizona supports all police, correctional, probation and parole officers, firefighters, and federal agents who are serving and protecting the citizens of Arizona. This includes all county, tribal, state and federal levels.

Few professions have the risk that public safety brings to family members. And already in 2011, the 100 Club has helped the families of five officers and firefighters who have died in the line of duty. On that worst of days, spouses, parents and children of public safety employees are helped by the family of the 100 Club, not just financially, but with shoulder-to-shoulder support and care.

You may be part of the “silent majority” who sees their public safety employees looking after them all day, every day. And you may have wondered what people can do to say thank you. One great way is to join the 100 Club. Membership in the 100 Club of Arizona is open to everyone and provides “minimum effort and maximum satisfaction.”

Thank you (become a member today).

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Five Who Didn’t Come Home

National Police Week is May 15 to 21 this year.

Which is a good time to share the brief stories of five Tempe Officers who didn’t come home at the end of their shifts. Some of them are unknown except for archival documents. The rest are remembered by their parents, siblings, spouses, children and many friends. They all came to work each day to do a difficult job protecting people they knew and many more people they didn’t know. All are missed.

Night Officer Albert Nettle was killed May 18, 1919 in a jail break. He brought a prisoner into the jail just as another prisoner was fighting with the Marshal over being separated from his friends. Nettle grabbed that prisoner but was shot by one of the others. Local citizens re-captured the escapees.

Marshal Cyrus Spangler was shot by two robbers on January 11, 1921 as they held up the Baber-Jones Mercantile at 6th Street and Mill Avenue. The robbers were shot and killed in a gunfight at Calabasas, AZ as they fled to Mexico.

Lieutenant John Bradshaw was killed on the Hohokam Expressway north of University Drive on September 21, 1987. A man escaped while being transported for a psychiatric evaluation and commandeered a motorcycle. Lt. Bradshaw was shot as the motorcycle passed him. Department of Public Safety officers caught up to the suspect in Phoenix; they killed him when he tried to shoot them. Lieutenant Bradshaw had served for 20 years.

Officer Robert Hawk was struck by a hit-and-run driver on September 23, 1988 during a traffic stop on the Superstition Freeway near Rural Road. He had been with the Department only 18 months.

Officer Kevin Weeks was killed on his police motorcycle on September 28, 2006. He was on his way home at the end of his shift and struck construction materials on the Price Freeway at Apache Boulevard. He had been on the Department seven years.

Visit the Tempe page at the Officer Down Memorial Page by searching for Tempe.

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The Village is Digital. How’s That Working For Your Kids?

Overwhelmed by all the technology your kids know about? When did you last do a “parent update” on everything in your kids’ digital world? If the answer is anything less than a month, it’s probably been too long.

It has been said it “Takes a Village” to raise a child, but, today, the Village is Digital.

You may have grown up before the Internet, or when we still said “the World Wide Web,” or when surfing the web meant figuring out Yahoo. But your kids swim in this stuff every day. And they’re not equipped to really understand it or be safe. Personally, the first time I ever saw MySpace was in 2005 when I was called to a house about teen threats. I was expecting, “here’s my son – you can ask him about it,” instead, the Mom said, “look at his computer.” That was all new — I hadn’t heard about MySpace and the term cyberbullying hadn’t been coined yet. And MySpace isn’t even the cool place to be anymore.

Ask your child, “How many friends so you have?” They’ll include people they’ve never met. If your kids are younger, see how many Club Penguin kids they “know.” If they’re older, search for their Facebook pages (they may have more than one). How about e-mail accounts? With free services, a teen can easily have five or more accounts – none of them arranged through parents.

For a suggestion on talking to your kids see: A Parent/Author/Tech Pundit’s View on How to Teach Kids Privacy

For more information overall, here’s a pretty thorough list of Digital areas to think about and look into. The same site also has guides on specific sites or topics.

What have you found useful?

Share your thoughts and Stay Safe,

R. Mitchell