The Gloucester Township Police Department announced late last month an upgrade to its Community Policing Dispatch Center, thanks to input from its telecommunicators, a review of other communication centers and the ever-growing role technology plays in police services.
“Today we are here to speak about yet another improvement in police practice and technology that will enable us to further improve safety for the community and officers, expand our ability to catch criminals, and continue our personal service to our residents,” said Chief Harry Earle, during the press conference on Monday, Aug. 26. “These goals will be consistently achieved and surpassed due to the investments and upgrades in our Community Policing Dispatch Center.”
According to Earle, telecommunicators handles 911 calls as well as calls to its non-emergency number, which is able to direct residents to a variety of non-police services 24 hours a day. Telecommunicators can also assist residents with other issues, such as lost and found animals, department and service location, video monitoring services and more.
Construction on the project began last year, according to Earle, with the last major renovation and technology upgrades to the dispatch center coming in 2002.
The project was complete through three phases, focusing on the improvement of services available to the public, as well as technology able to used by telecommunicators and police officers. The first phase of the project, Earle said during the conference, was the renovation of the Community Policing Dispatch Center.
“The existing 911 dispatch consoles were replaced with Xybix ergonomic dispatch kiosks that raise and lower in order for dispatchers to perform their duties from both standing and sitting positions,” said Earle. “This is very important for dispatchers who are working 12 hour shifts or even longer.”
Also, the department upgraded the NextGen 911 system to allow it to receive text messages, better pinpoint a caller’s location on a map, assist those with disabilities in connecting to 911 and more. NextGen 911 is not in service at this time in New Jersey, however the Gloucester Township Police Department is now ahead of things when the state begins the transition to the system.
Lastly for the project, the department is now equipped with 911Eye, which enables telecommunicators to send a text message to a caller, which can then be used by the resident calling to provide the department with live video footage or an image of their situation, with a GPS location.
“We are confident that this system will enable our residents to provide live images to our dispatch center for certain situations that can improve safety by confirming the caller’s exact location, assist us in dispatching the most appropriate resources, and create better communications by enhancing the conversation to include video or images,” said Earle.
“The range of incidents where 911Eye may be of assistance is broad and will likely include suspicious person or vehicle calls, active fires, motor vehicle crashes, lost or found children, reuniting pets with their owners, or any other incident where situational awareness can be improved by the use of the 911Eye.”
According to the department, the 911Eye is fully functional for both 911 and for its non-emergency number of (856) 228-4500.
Mayor David Mayer was in attendance for the announcement of the upgrade, commending the department for its hard work and his excitement in further technology being at the disposal of the department.
“There is no better way to use technology than when you use it to save lives and improve public safety,” said Mayer. “As mayor, I’m very proud of our strong and very innovative police department that continuously strives to improve themselves in all areas, including technology.”