A 911 livestream system first used by Chula Vista Police is now available for any agency nationwide to purchase following its success with the department. It allows officers to listen in to emergency calls in real-time.
Chula Vista police began testing the program called Live 911 in February and in May, it was officially rolled out for all officers for use. It allows officers to listen live to emergency phone calls that come from within their immediate area.
If a caller is on a cellphone, it detects the exact location. Officers are able to hear details that may not make it into a computer report and it also gives them a head start in the direction of a potential emergency.
“So now the officers are able to hear the tone of the voice of the caller. They’re able to hear the urgency," said Lt. Don Redmond of the Chula Vista Police Department. "They’re able to pick up on little clues that maybe the dispatcher did not or was unable to enter into the computer and this gives them more insight as to what the issue is that they’re responding to. We feel like anytime an officer has more information, the better decisions they’re going to make."
The program is optional for officers and it is not required.
Right now, the department estimates about 3/4 of patrol officers are using it, at least for mapping purposes.
The department has spent the last year working with software company Higher Ground to develop the system. The idea was the brainchild of a now-retired captain.
As we’ve seen in the last several months with police-community relations under the microscope, this type of technology could be more important than ever with de-escalation.
“Live 911, we believe, is a game-changer because now the community can talk to our officers immediately in the field," Redmond said. "They can explain what they’re seeing, the tone of their voice, actions, as opposed to officers having to hear it second hand or third hand from a dispatcher who is trying to relay this information and some information could get lost in translation."
Already, at least three other police agencies are in the testing phase of using it -- one in Central California, one in Florida and another on the East Coast.