On Monday, Amherst police began accepting text messages as an alternative to directly calling police. Amherst residents are urged to text police with any questions or concerns about non-emergency issues.
For Amherst Police Chief Joseph Kucirek, the new texting system serves a dual purpose. The primary purpose is saving work for police dispatchers, especially since there usually is only one on duty, Kucirek said.
“People typically call (police dispatchers) for everything and anything,” Kucirek said, adding that every year at Halloween, Amherst police dispatchers receive multiple calls about trick-or-treat. “They’ll never know if we’re busy here.”
In addition to filtering out calls to the Police Department, Kucirek said that allowing the public to text in tips and concerns will make many people – especially younger generations – more open to the idea of getting in contact with police.
“It seems like kids are very willing to send things over a text message that they wouldn’t say to an adult or a police officer,” Kucirek said. To make texting police more common for teenagers, the Amherst Police Department is posting fliers with the information and phone number for the Police Department around Marion L. Steele High School and Amherst’s middle schools.
Amherst is the first department in Lorain County to accept texts for tips and questions. However, the Amherst police have been practicing with the system by sending texts between dispatchers and police, and they are finally ready to open it up to the public.
The system, Kucirek said, is fairly simple. A cellphone in the Police Department will receive the texts and, since that phone is hooked up to the dispatchers’ computers, the text will appear on the computer monitor of the dispatcher on duty. The dispatcher then will be able to reply by directly typing on his computer.
Amherst residents can text the Police Department at (440) 988-4422, although for emergency tips or calls, people are urged to call, rather than text, the same number.