911 Cellphone Bank
True Stories / Daunting Task

By Edward Hutchison,
Director of Triad, National Sheriffs’ Association

The boxes had been piling up in the storage area—mismatched batteries, cell phones, cords and chargers. “It was a daunting task to match everything up, test, and then ship it out,” says Deputy James Absher, Triad Program Officer of Oklahoma County, OK. The cell phones, which can access 911 even without a phone company account, are donated to the sheriff’s office to be conditioned and used for seniors and for victims of domestic violence.

The “daunting task” changed in 2004 when Sheriff John Whetsel brought in RMS Communications to sort out their sorting problem. “RMS offered us a deal too good to refuse. We ship our collected phones, unsorted, to RMS and they sort them, send us boxed, working phones with a battery and a charger for our 911 cell phone program, and give us money for our Triad program, too.”

Sheriff Whetsel was skeptical. He didn’t know how RMS earned money with the deal. Greg Mooneyham, the 911 program manager for RMS, says: “We get a great deal of skepticism about the program. But it’s a concept that works for seniors, victims of domestic violence, law enforcement, Triad, and RMS. We take cell phones that can be broken down into resalable parts and we sell them.  Working phones with a resale value, we sell to domestic and overseas markets.  Phones that work, but have no real resale value, we recondition, test, package, and send out free to the 911 cell phone programs nationwide. It keeps toxic batteries out of landfills, as well.” 

To get the word out about cell phone collection, Sheriff Whetsel states “We mention the program at our crime prevention presentations, such as the AARP 55-Alive program.”  He stresses that RMS has only been a facilitator in the process that they were already a part of – and that is helping victims of crime.  911 cell phones are still going out to the community; the sheriff’s office is still collecting phones for the program.  And the 911 cell phones that have been refurbished are used by the Neighborhood Watch team when they are on patrol.  Only now, RMS does the work that once tied up volunteers, and the Triad program is receiving funding to sustain the program. 

RMS has collected about 1,400 cell phones from the program, pre-kitted 600 phones for the Oklahoma County 911 cell phone program, and paid Triad more than $3,500. “It’s a win-win situation.” Mooneyham says. “We need conduits to collect the cell phones for our company.  Triads need funding to continue their efforts to keep seniors safe. And law enforcement agencies need 911 cell phone programs for their most vulnerable citizens. This is a perfect balance of simple economics.” 
Deputy Absher explains that funds from RMS have allowed the Oklahoma County Triad to prepare an appreciation luncheon for all of the Triad volunteers, to fund programming, and to supply the Triad volunteers with resources. “We have had so many phones come in that there is enough money to do more for our volunteers” Absher says. “And phones keep coming in.”

“In the end, the 911 cell phone program is streamlined.  The phones that used to line the halls, waiting to be processed, are gone.  We have a strong Triad program. And my senior volunteers are happy”  Sheriff Whetsel says with a grin.  That’s the ring tone of success.

For more information on RMS, contact Ken Kane, Director Sales & Marketing, RMS Communications Group, Inc., (352) 369-3888x1303, fax (352) 369-3866, kkane@rmscomm.com. For more information on Triad, visit www.nationaltriad.org, or contact Terri Hicks (800) 424-7827 ext. 301, fax (703) 519-8567, terrih@sheriffs.org.

Do you have a success story to tell, please send it in to www.911cellphonebank.org



All trademarks, trade names, registered trademarks, or registered trade names are property of their respective holders. © Copyright 2002-2008 RMS Communications, Inc.