A woman's awareness she could text police for help helped pull her out of a potentially dangerous domestic situation Friday and resulted in the arrest of a man on assault and drug charges.
Police said the incident was reported at 6:09 a.m. Friday. The 911 text message said the victim's "ex" had hit her and that he had drugs on him.
A police dispatcher was able to exchange texts with the victim and police were dispatched to the room they were in at a motel in the 4100 block of U.S. Highway 180 East.
"They were texting with her the whole time we were responding," said Mineral Wells Police Chief Dean Sullivan.
911 texting can be the best way to contact police in certain emergency situations, especially during a home invasion or a domestic assault when making a voice call could escalate the danger.
"That looked to be the premise of her texting, the (ongoing) threat during their relationship and the abuse," Sullivan said. "When we got there she had some evident injuries consistent with domestic violence assault."
The ability make a 911 text has been available several years in Mineral Wells and Palo Pinto County. Sullivan said it is not frequently used – perhaps a couple of times a year. He recalled a wreck in the county where a person involved texted for help.
"These are the kinds of situations that can be helpful with the victim to establish communication with law enforcement or any number of law enforcement agencies," said Sullivan. "It's a good tool. It's an alternative to a voice call but it needs to be an emergency situation."
The emergency text pops up on the telecommunicator's dispatch screen and they can respond immediately.
"When it comes in, it will pop up right in the middle of the screen," said Sullivan. "It's almost like a text message pop up. We usually have the caller verify their location."
Joseph Nathaniel Patino, 36, was arrested at the motel on two counts of felony possession of a controlled substance in the amounts of 1-4 grams and less than 1 gram, and a charge of continuous violence against the family. He remained in Palo Pinto County Jail on Monday under bonds totaling $70,000.
Records reportedly show the victim has made previous reports related to domestic abuse, and Patino has a 2019 arrest for assault of a family member.
The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District has offered 911 emergency texting to agencies across the North Texas region since January of 2013. The district says a voice call is preferred, saying texting should be used only if "you are hard of hearing or deaf, have a speech impairment, or if you are in a situation where it would be unsafe for you to speak, such as during a home invasion where talking would give away your location to an intruder."
911 texting works like a regular phone text. Open your messaging feature, enter “911” into the “To:” field, and type out your message. If texting is not available in your area, you’ll receive a return message prompting you to call.
To receive a quick response, include in the text message your exact or approximate location, the type of emergency you are having, and what kind of services you need such as police, fire or EMS.
"Answer all of the telecommunicator’s questions and stay alert in case more information is requested," states NCT911.