MIDDLETON, WI--(Marketwired - Oct 1, 2013) - Residents and visitors in Middleton, WI can now contact police for non-emergency services by sending a text message to the department's existing landline phone number.
Thanks to a partnership with Zipwhip, the world's first text carrier, people in Middleton have a new but familiar way to contact police for non-emergency services or to simply ask a question. They can now call or text the department at the same number they've been accustomed to using for years: 608-824-7300. The text service also fills a critical need by enabling better access to non-emergency services for citizens who are speech or hearing impaired.
"We're excited to announce that we are now able to receive and respond to text messages sent to our non-emergency phone number," said Middleton Police Chief Brad Keil. "Our department is constantly striving to enhance communication with the public and make police services more accessible to everyone in the City of Middleton, and based on citizens initial response to this new service that's exactly what we're seeing."
While the Middleton Police Department is pleased to offer this valuable new service, it comes with a note of caution.
"It's important to remember that texting while driving in Wisconsin is unsafe and illegal and that this new text service is for non-emergency calls for service or questions only," added Keil. "In an emergency, residents should continue to make voice calls to 9-1-1. There's a nationwide effort being led by the Federal Communications Commission and other entities that may soon allow people to text 9-1-1, but that service is not currently available in our community."
Benefits Middleton police and residents anticipate receiving, or are already getting, from the new service include:
- Fewer time-consuming phone calls for things such as power outages, parade times, and curfew hours, freeing up limited resources to respond first to more pressing matters.
- Shorter 'on-hold' times for callers.
- Increased citizen engagement.
- Safer, silent way for citizens to report suspicious activities or provide information about an incident -- such as a robbery or hit-and-run.
- Ability for police to send a single outgoing text message to a group of staff members -- instead of contacting each person individually -- which could increase the department's communication efficiency during an investigation.
According to the police department, multiple examples of how the Zipwhip landline texting service is boosting public safety in Middleton, WI are already beginning to surface.
One was a hit and run crash where a Middleton police official posted a message on Facebook with information and a request for anyone with additional information to call or text the department at 608-824-7300. This led to the police department receiving four text messages over the Zipwhip texting service with information that ultimately led to an arrest in the hit and run.
The second incident involved officers being called to check on a person who was possibly suicidal and potentially armed with a weapon. Upon first response, the individual did not answer the door or repeated phone calls. But, after the Middleton police dispatcher sent a Zipwhip text-enabled message explaining that it was the police at the door, and that officers just wanted to make sure that person was safe and okay, the individual answered the door within seconds. The weapon was found to be a plastic sword and officers took the person into protective custody to get the help that individual needed.
"We're pleased the Middleton Police Department selected Zipwhip to enhance the communications services it provides to citizens in its community," said John Lauer, CEO of Zipwhip. "Other non-emergency texting services require people to use unfamiliar and cumbersome short-code numbers. We believe our cloud-based texting application allows police personnel to connect and engage with residents, visitors and fellow staff members more easily and more frequently, leading to a safer, better protected community."
Texting is for more than the mobile phone. Zipwhip has given new life to texting, a service that celebrates its 20th birthday this year. Zipwhip pioneered the concept of utilizing the cloud to enable existing mobile, landline and toll-free numbers to send and receive text messages from virtually any connected desktop, tablet or smartphone. Zipwhip powers a messaging service on any device over any number. Consumers and small businesses can sign up at www.zipwhip.com. Additionally, Zipwhip offers a carrier-grade texting platform to help mobile and landline operators modernize the text-messaging medium. Its technology introduces trailblazing functionality while holding true to the distinct culture of texting that consumers have grown to love. Zipwhip now has more than seven million registered users of its texting services.