About Text-to-911

What Is Text-to-911?

Text-to-911 helps those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have limited speech capabilities - or anyone who cannot safely call 911.

With Text-to-911, you can send a text message to 911 emergency dispatchers from your mobile phone or device.

Text-to-911 is free, works through short message service (SMS) with cellular carriers, and requires a text or data plan.


Like other 9-1-1 calls, text-to-911 should only be used for emergencies. If the situation is not an emergency requiring immediate help, you should call the UCPD Non-Emergency line at (510) 642-6760.

Text-to-911 is not available in all jurisdictions. If you are within an area that does NOT yet offer text-to-911 services, you may receive a return message that states services are not available. If that happens, place a voice call to 911 to report your emergency.

Always call 911 if you can.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech disabled, and text-to-911 is not available, use a TTY or a telecommunications relay service, if possible.

How to Use Text-to-911

To report an emergency to UCPD using text-to-911:

  • Go to your cell phone text messaging screen.
  • Enter “911” (with no dashes or spaces) in the “To” field.
  • Text your reason for the emergency
  • Text your full address and cross streets or building location.
  • Use complete words and sentences, not abbreviations.
  • Do not use photos, emoticons, videos, and multiple recipients (group texts).
  • Answer all of the dispatcher’s questions. The dispatcher will end the chat.


You Must . . .

Know Your Location

  • Many people assume that their exact location is automatically sent to 911 centers. While this may be true for most landline phones, 911 centers cannot always identify your location if you’re contacting us from a cell phone. Whether you call or text 911, you need to be able to describe where you are so we can send you help.
  • If a text-to-911 call is misrouted, we have the ability to transfer text-to-911 to the appropriate police agency.

Use Plain English

  • Text-to-911 can only receive words and punctuation and CANNOT receive emoticons, emoji, pictures, or videos.
  • Your message may not be interpreted correctly if you use “text speak” or abbreviations. (Examples of these types of abbreviations are: “TTYL” or “AFK.”)
  • Language interpreting service is not available for text-to-911 at this time. Trained 911 dispatchers will do their best to assist you if you are not able to text in English.

For more information

The FCC has created a "What you need to know page" for Text-to-911: