Chula Vista residents should expect better, faster service from first responders now that the Chula Vista Police Department has unveiled a larger 911 Emergency Communications Center with an upgraded 911 phone system.
Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy said the new center gives them room for the additional police dispatchers the department hired with funds from Measure A, a half-cent sales tax increase approved by voters in 2016. Chief Kennedy said they expanded from 26 dispatchers to 33.
“We have more dispatchers that will help us get those officers to them [residents] when they need help,” Kennedy said.
The new Communications Center allows 11 dispatchers to work simultaneously. Previously, there was room for only eight. The room also has desk space to eventually expand to 14 dispatchers.
“I think the bigger the dispatch center, the better the ability that we have to help Chula Vista,” said police dispatcher Sarah McDonald.
The new center increases location accuracy for anyone who calls 911 and sets the department up for people to text emergencies to 911 in the future, CVPD said. Right now, San Diego County residents can’t text emergencies to 911. Chula Vista is the third city in the County to have the capability, but the entire county will need the capability before the system can go online. Logistical issues with transferring calls need to be worked out before that can happen.
Chief Kennedy said texting 911 in an emergency benefits the deaf and hard of hearing.
“Yes, absolutely! We’re thrilled to have this option!” signed Allie Rice, Deputy Director of Deaf Community Services. “It’s really cool because technology is prevalent in today’s society.”
Chief Kennedy said it will also help people who find themselves in eminent danger. She said a person could text from a hiding place when a burglar or gunman is nearby.
“You can’t take the chance of someone hearing you,” the Chief said. “Think about the fact that you can text that information into dispatch.”
While Measure A paid for additional dispatchers, the Chula Vista Police Department paid for the upgraded system and expanded Communications Center using money from the California Office of Emergency Services.