New system lets Chula Vista cops monitor live 911 calls near them

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CHULA VISTA, Calif.  – Police in Chula Vista have a brand new emergency dispatching system that could shave minutes off their response to 911 calls at a time when seconds are critical.

“If you’re calling 911, you want help immediately,” said CVPD Lt. Don Redmond. “You don’t want to have to wait three or four extra minutes for an officer to get that information.”

Inspired by an idea from Chula Vista police captain, the system is called Live 911 and it partially cuts out the middleman, emergency dispatchers. It was developed by HigherGround Inc., and it lets officers listen in to live calls and start heading in the direction of the call, sometimes before the dispatcher even hangs up. 

The Chula Vista Police Department says it gets about 100,000 emergency calls a year or roughly 300 calls a day. That’s a lot of calls for officers to listen to. But Live 911 allows officers to set up perimeters so they can filter out calls that are coming from farther than a mile from their location.

“So as they are driving around, if they hear a 911 call, they know that 911 is within blocks of where they are currently located,” Redmond said.

Dispatchers still play a vital role in the system. They remain on the line to keep people calm and take detailed notes, which they can pass on to responding officers. But the ability to listen to the actual 911 call gives officers important information that they might not get otherwise.

“With Live 911, they are hearing everything the caller is saying: the voice, is this a real fight, a toy gun? This is important information,” Redmond said. “When they turn onto your street to help you, you want to make sure they know what’s going on.”

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