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MSP piloting new emergency text message tool in four counties

Michigan State Police

The Michigan State Police is rolling out a pilot program that provides real-time text message updates to 911 callers in four counties.

Anyone who makes an emergency call from a cell phone in Eaton, Branch, Calhoun or St. Joseph counties will receive a text message letting them know which state trooper is en route to their location along with an estimated arrival. Subsequent texts will tell them if the trooper is delayed.

Lieutenant Renee Gonzalez with the Michigan State Police said that information is valuable for emergency calls.

"We've had incidences where once the caller makes a call for service, it could be a traffic crash, they may be waiting 45 minutes or so," Gonzalez said. "So it's a good idea for them to know how long they could be waiting.”

Gonzalez added callers will not receive text message updates if they are calling for an unsafe situation, like domestic violence or an armed robbery.

A press release says the Michigan State Police is "the first state-level police agency in the country" to run a pilot with the technology.

Officers from the Lansing post of the state police respond to calls in Eaton County. The Marshall post addresses calls in the other three counties.

Callers will also receive a survey within 24 hours after the incident to provide feedback.

Gonzalez said the pilot program will help officers learn how they can be more responsive to residents.

“The Michigan State Police is trying to improve the service that we give to the community," Gonzalez said. "So we're always looking for ways to make it easier for them to know what's going on.”

The pilot will run for three months. After that, state police will explore if they want to launch the text message service statewide.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.