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Service will send a text of Sheriff's Department helicopter messages

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Posted at 1:10 PM, Oct 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-30 16:11:51-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The San Diego Sheriff's Department is making it easier for residents to receive — at times, indiscernible — messages issued by the department's helicopters.

The free service will allow residents to receive a text of the message being issued by deputies by texting "Hello" to 858-866-4356 (HELO).

Typically, the department uses its ASTREA helicopter loudspeakers to announce searches for missing persons or suspects, as well as during emergency situations like SWAT standoffs, disasters, shelter in place advisories, or crowd management.

But, at times, though messages may be difficult to understand.

The service is not automated, meaning users will have to send a text when they want to receive the message being issued in their area. And while the service is free from the department, standard text messaging rates may apply depending on phone plans.

The department's text service only applies to SDSO patrol areas and is separate from the San Diego Police Department, which began issuing their helicopter alerts separately on the Nextdoor app and Twitter in 2015.

"If there is more than one active broadcast at any given time, you have the option to choose the message that impacts your location. Currently, this service is only available for Sheriff's Department patrol areas," SDSO said.

To report crimes or an emergency, residents should dial 9-1-1 or for non-emergencies to deputies, call 858-565-5200.