Edinburg dispatchers use new technology to video chat 911 callers

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Dispatchers use new technology to video chat 911 callers (Source: KGBT) 

When someone calls 911 they are often in distress and may have difficulty describing what is happening around them, but the Edinburg Police Department is hoping to change that by using new technology that makes it easier for dispatchers to communicate.

“Caller will call the [Edinburg] police department regarding something going on and we will send them a link. It’s very simple, you just activate the link, and start the video and then you can point the camera at the incident,” said Edinburg Chief of Police Cesar Torres. “We had few incidents already where it’s been used, and we were happy.”

Dispatchers will text a link to the phone number calling 911 within the Edinburg dispatch coverage area. Then, the caller can click the link to allow access to the camera. Within seconds, the stream will allow dispatchers to see the incident.

The trained dispatchers can also share the live feed with officers on their squad cars, so they can see the scene live as they are responding.

“Before the officers get to the scene they already have an idea of what’s going on because they’re looking at that particular video,” said Chief Torres.

Edinburg Police is the first agency in the State of Texas to have the 911 Eye System live stream.

Only two other agencies in the country have it.

“If we’re down streaming it here, it’s captured here and we can use it as evidence. If it’s the other way around, where you send a video to us. You know it opens a possibility of us having to seize your phone as evidence,” explained Torres.

Funding for the system is coming from within city budget, and Chief Torres, says it is well worth it.

“How can you put a price on [the] safety of our citizens? To me, our safety is number one,” said Torres.

Edinburg resident, Cynthia Spears, says the idea is great.

“I feel like it’s a really good thing because if you’re hiding in a closet or something you can show it and make some signals and show that you’re hiding,” said Spears.

The video will also share GPS coordinates with dispatchers, if the caller is lost or can’t respond.

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