Some Iowans avoid technology but a simple cell phone could be a life-saver in a host of situations. The sheriff’s department in Iowa’s most populous county is now offering cell phones that only dial 911 to anyone 55 years of age and older.
Sergeant Brian Long, of the Polk County Sherrif’s Office, says the phones are free. “They’ve been reconditioned to give them access to 911 and they’ll be able to use them to call in emergency situations,” Sergeant Long says. “Anytime they may be in a situation with a fire or an assault, they’ll be able to dial 911 and get access to our dispatch.”
The phones are not linked with a cell company plan so there is no monthly cost to carry them, he says, other than keeping the batteries charged. “There’s no fee for the usage of these but they can’t make any other phone calls,” Long says.
“The way they’re set up, they could charge it to a credit card if they wanted to make a phone call but there’s no plan set up directly with these phones other than just being able to call 911.” Polk County is among the first law enforcement offices in the state to offer free phones.
The program is being made possible by people who donate their old phones when they buy new ones. Long says, “If anybody has a cell phone that’s in working order and it has a charger with it, they’re welcome to drop them by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in any of our locations.”
Virtually all cell phones manufactured in the past five years have the ability to dial 911, even if they’re not linked to any sort of calling plan.