City of Colstrip Launches TEXT-TO-911

Most citizens in the City of Colstrip can now send a short message service (SMS) text message to 911 for emergency help when unable to make a 911 voice call.  This new public safety service has been brought to the City of Colstrip and is available to wireless customers of AT&T and Verizon Wireless cell phones.

text911Text-to-911 was not developed as a replacement to a voice call to 911 in an emergency situation, but rather as an enhancement to reach 911 services in certain situations:  The caller is hearing/voice impaired; a medical emergency renders the person incapable of speech; when speaking out loud would put the caller in danger, such as a home invasion, a domestic violence incident, or an active shooter scenario; and/or when on the edge of the cellular network where there might not be voice coverage, but text can get through. When in an emergency situation, all wireless callers should remember to “Call 911 if you can; Text 911 if you can’t.” 

City of Colstrip citizens should keep the following important information in mind if they send a text-to-911:

  • Customers should use the texting option when calling 911 is not an option.
  • Using a phone to call 911 is still the most efficient way to reach emergency help.  Texting is not always instantaneous, which is critical during a life-threatening emergency. It may take slightly longer to dispatch emergency services in a text-to-911 situation because of the time involved:  Someone must enter the text; the message must go over the network and the 911 Dispatcher must read the text and then text back.
  • Providing detailed and exact location information and nature of the emergency in the first text message is imperative, since City of Colstrip 911 will initially only receive the location of the cell phone tower closest to the call’s origin.
  • Text abbreviations, emoticons or slang should never be used so that the intent of the dialogue can be as clear as possible.
  • Customers must be in range of cell towers in the City of Colstrip.If customers are outside or near the edge of the towers, the message may not reach the City of Colstrip 911.
  • Texts to 911 from areas where the service is not available will receive a “bounce back” message explaining that Text-to-911 is not available in that area, and to make a voice 911 call.
  • Texts sent to 911 have the same 160-character limit as other text messages.
  • Wireless customers who use Usage Controls should remove this feature to ensure full text-to-911 capabilities.
  • Wireless customers must have mobile phones that are capable of sending text messages.  The solution is available for customers who use the native SMS provided by wireless carriers.Customers should consult their over- the-top (OTT) messaging provider to determine if and how text-to-911 is provided by the OTT application.
  • The texting function should only be used for emergency situations that require an immediate response from police, fire or emergency medical services. For non-emergency situations, customers should contact their local public safety agency via a 10-digit non-emergency number: 406-748-2211
  • Out-of-Service cellphones will not be able to Text-to-911; there must be an active data plan for Text-to-911 to work.
  • Do not joke around. If you text to 911, responders will be dispatched.
  • Text-to-911should only be used to communicate between emergency help and the texter.No pictures, video, other attachments, or other recipients can be appended to the message.



Cory Hert

 Cory Hert

Cory was raised and graduated high school from Hysham, Montana. He spent 9 years in the US Army as an helicopter mechanic. While in the Army he received an A.S. Degree in Administrative Justice from the University of Hawaii. After leaving the Army he was hired as a deputy sheriff for the Rosebud County Sheriff's Office and was stationed in Colstrip. He left the Sheriff's Office after 5 years when he was hired by the Colstrip Police Department. Cory has been Chief of Police since May 2012.


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Q: If I have to talk to someone about my drivers license where do I go and when?

A: The State Examiner comes to Colstrip every Thursday. They are here from 10:15 AM to 1:45 PM and are located on the 2nd floor of the Human Services Building located at 417 Willow Avenue (library building). The license examiner does not have an office in the police complex anymore.

Q: If I need to take care of registering my vehicle where do I go?

A: The Rosebud County Treasurer is in Colstrip the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month. Their hours are 10:00 AM to Noon and 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM. They are located on the second floor of the Human Services Building (library) located at 417 Willow Avenue.

Q: I need to ask a question or have an issue resolved, who should I contact?

A: Citizens wanting information from the CPD or who need to report a crime or other issue can call 748-2211 and can now email:  Ask The CPD

TheCity of Colstrip Dispatch Centeris the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for 911 calls placed in the City of Colstrip and surrounding areas. Dispatching is provided for Colstrip police officers, fire department, EMS and other public safety agencies.

The Colstrip Police Department assumed the responsibility for the 9-1-1 Emergency Center in September 2004. The  9-1-1 Center staff numbers five employees, who are trained in emergency dispatch procedures. The Center handles all emergency 9-1-1 calls in the Colstrip area and dispatches police, fire and ambulance personnel. In addition the dispatchers monitor air traffic communications in and out of the Colstrip airport. The  9-1-1 Center is truly a life line for the community.

The City of Colstrip 911 Dispatch Center Staff consists of 4 full-time dispatchers and 1 partime dispatcher: Lisa Demaniow, Elizabeth DeSelms, Noreen Landwehr, Cameron Rogers and Amy Koski. 

How do I know when to dial 911? Anytime you find yourself in a situation that requires an emergency response from a law enforcement agency, a fire department, or an ambulance service you should call 911. As a general rule, if you face a situation where you are trying to decide whether to dial 911 or not, DIAL 911. It is always better to be safe than risk the chance of not getting the help you need, when you need it.
If you have a situation that you need to report, but the incident is a past event and non-threatening (not in progress, suspects are unknown or not seen), i.e., theft of personal property, past criminal mischief/vandalism, a theft from an auto that occurred during the night, then you may want to contact the law enforcement agency to report the incident by calling in on the Colstrip Police Department at (406)-748-2211 or the Rosebud County Sheriff at (406)-346-2715. Again, anytime you are unsure of when to dial 911, it is always better to dial 911 than risk not getting help when you need it.
What can I expect when I call 911? When you dial 911, your call will be answered by an 911 Dispatcher. The dispatcher will conduct an interview to determine the type of emergency service needed. Questions generally asked fall into key questions of WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and depending on the situation, WHY. It's important to listen to the dispatcher and answer the questions asked. The dispatcher must ask you specific questions in order to ensure you receive the kind of help needed. It may seem that you are asked a lot of questions and that a lot of time has passed,however trained dispatchers will only ask questions that are necessary in getting you the proper help you need. This generally takes less than 30-45 seconds. Often times the dispatcher will start emergency response units and will return to ask the follow-up questions.) The main objective is to remain calm and listen to the dispatcher's instructions...help is on the way.
What happens if I accidentally dial 911? Misdials are sometimes experienced on 911. Often many misdials are realized after the number is dialed and the caller will immediately disconnect the line. This is what is commonly referred to as a "911 hangup". If a connection was made, regardless if the line was not answered by the 911 operator, the PSAP will still receive the call. It is very important to remain on the line, even if you realize you misdialed. If you disconnect the line, the 911 operator must process the call as an unknown emergency, until otherwise determined.
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