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Ontario County Offers Texting 911 Feature; Focuses On Security At Eastview During Holiday Shopping

The Ontario County Sheriff's Office and Eastview Mall are working together to keep shoppers safe this holiday season.

Mike Kauffman is the General Manager of the mall, he says they are encouraging shoppers to be aware of their surroundings, and if they see something, to say something.

Kauffman has been the manager at Eastview since the early 1990's,  and he says back then, security wasn't very high on the list of shopper concerns.

“And now, in our industry, you know, security consistently ranks toward the top. And therefore, we try to respond to those concerns and that focus."

Kauffman says they have two officers at the mall full-time, and they have mobile units patrolling the parking lots and cameras to keep an eye on things.

This year, the Ontario County Sheriff's Office is announcing a new feature that allows people to text 911 in the event of an emergency. This feature could help people who are unable to call, like victims of domestic violence or those involved in an active shooter situation, as well as people who are hearing or speech impaired. You do that by entering the numbers " 911 " in the "To" field on your phone.

Sheriff Phil Povero says they would still prefer people call when they can, but there may be times when it is easier or safer to text the dispatchers. Monroe County has a similar service.

Povero says his department is also working with the personnel at Eastview Mall to review security during the holiday season. He asked the public to help out by keeping your valuables out of plain sight when you park in the lots and make sure to lock your vehicle.

In terms of recent mass shootings around the country in public places, Povero says it doesn't make sense to worry, but he says people should always be observant and aware of their surroundings.

“Worry is senseless, but taking our time to be alert, to watch out for the people that are with us , our family, our friends, to understand what is going on around us, to stay focused.”

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.
Veronica Volk is a senior editor and producer for WXXI News.