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True stories from dispatchers, law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel who use New World public safety software to help them save lives, protect communities and increase efficiency


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Dana Rasmussen

Dana Rasmussen is a senior marketing communications specialist for Tyler Technologies. She began her career working with public safety officials as a reporter covering the police beat. She has written about the work of dispatchers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters and the communities they serve.


The Facts About Text-to-911

This article is part four of a six-part series on Next Generation 911
Part one | Part two | Part three | Part four | Part five | Part six

Text-to-911 is as simple as it sounds. It means that cell phone users can send and receive text messages to and from 9-1-1 call centers.

This concept generally calls to mind the image of someone hiding in a closet while texting 9-1-1 to say there is a burglar in the house. The reason this person is texting 9-1-1 instead of calling 9-1-1 highlights the need to communicate with emergency services even when speaking could be a problem.

Video: CAD Users Experience Text-to-911


Text-to-911 works the same way it does when individuals send text messages to and from one another.

From a technological standpoint, when an individual makes a text call to 9-1-1, the text caller sends a text message to emergency services. That text message is then routed by the person's phone provider (Verizon, Sprint, etc.) through a Text Control Center (TCC) to the appropriate public safety answering point (PSAP) in the area. Texts are received by a PSAP within six seconds.

Text-to-911 is a part of the National Emergency Number Association's Next Generation 9-1-1 initiative. This initiative is aimed at preparing PSAPs across the country with the technology capabilities to support the modern mixed media that smartphones and communication devices are capable of offering.




What Does Next Generation 911 Mean for my PSAP?

This article is part three of a six-part series on Next Generation 911
Part one | Part two | Part three | Part four | Part five | Part six

To determine what Next Generation 911 (NG 9-1-1) means for each public safety answering point (PSAP) is a bit complicated.

Currently, each PSAP in every community in every state is at a different level of readiness for NG 9-1-1. However, according to standards put into place regarding NG 9-1-1 by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), every dispatcher and call taker is going to be expected to communicate with those in need of 9-1-1 emergency services in more ways than just by voice.

Video: CAD Users Experience Text-to-911


This change is similar to what it was like when technology moved away from rotary phones to push buttons phones to phones with no buttons at all. This is a change that reflects how communication has changed and how that impacts all parts of our lives.

Since the sending of text messages is something many if not most people do now, there is a growing conversation among people wondering if they can send a text to 9-1-1. These people also wonder why they can't send a photo message or a video message or a live stream of a crime happening to 9-1-1 now.

NG 9-1-1 makes it possible for everyone to send these types of messages to 9-1-1, and PSAPs will be able to receive these messages, it's just a matter of when.

As of October 2016, each PSAP in the country is working independently to become ready for NG 9-1-1.

PSAPs that are slightly ahead of the game are ready to accept text calls from the community, but this only accounts for approximately 15% of PSAPs nationwide.

Read part four of the series »


When Will Next Generation 911 Be Ready?

This article is part two of a six-part series on Next Generation 911
Part one | Part two | Part three | Part four | Part five | Part six

In the year 2020, public safety answering points (PSAPs) everywhere will finally get an answer to a burning question: When will Next Generation 911 (NG 9-1-1) services be ready?

2020 is the year when the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) is expected to determine a definitive date for each PSAP in the country to know what to do to be ready for NG 9-1-1 services.

The reason this initiative is such a lengthy undertaking is because NG 9-1-1 requires PSAPs to connect to new networks and install new digital 9-1-1 systems. NENA is also setting guidelines or standards so that PSAPs throughout the country will all follow similar protocols (however, each PSAP will have the ability to determine the manner in which they handle NG 9-1-1 messages).

While all standards and protocols are not yet in place, many PSAPs throughout the country are readying themselves in some fashion, especially in regards to text-to-911.

Text-to-911 is one of the first aspects of NG 9-1-1 that PSAPs are preparing to handle. It involves PSAPs implementing the capability of handling emergency text messages from the public. Later, PSAPs will be able to handle multi-media messages and live video streams from the public.

Video: CAD Users Experience Text-to-911


As of October 2016, the majority of states do report some level of readiness for NG 9-1-1, mostly in terms of handling text-to-911. However, that does not mean that all communities within these states have text-to-911 capabilities. In fact, fewer than 15% of PSAPs across the United States currently are able to accept text calls.

As time goes on, it is expected that more communities will be able to offer text-to-911 services and will then focus on the next phase of NG 9-1-1.


Read part three of this series »


What to Expect with Next Generation 911

This is part 1 of a 6-part series on Next Generation 911.
Part one | Part two | Part three | Part four | Part five | Part six

The manner by which the world communicates via phone has changed.

Recognizing this change, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) developed Next Generation 911 (NG 9-1-1).

NG 9-1-1 is an initiative aimed at updating 9-1-1 emergency services to accommodate a growing wireless society and provide individuals with additional ways to reach out for emergency services. It allows for the public to communicate with 9-1-1 emergency services the same way most people communicate with each other today using text and multi-media messages on mobile phones.

In 2000, NENA first began to address the shift in how individuals communicate via phone and the need for the public to be able to talk to 9-1-1 emergency services in different ways. By 2003, NENA started to create standards for what NG 9-1-1 really meant.

The goal with NENA's initiative was to provide guidelines for public safety answering points (PSAPs), which would define requirements for PSAPs to follow. However, as of 2016, these requirements have not been fully defined.

Many PSAPs are preparing for NG 9-1-1 requirements by updating technology to enable the acceptance of voice, video, text and data sent over IP networks from various communication devices.

Communicating with 9-1-1 services using NG 9-1-1 technology will work the same way communication via smartphones does now for personal usage. However, instead of sending messages between friends, family, coworkers and the like, messages will be exchanged between the general public and emergency text call takers.

The goal of this technology is to make sure individuals can communicate with 9-1-1 services in a variety of ways. It is the goal of NENA to make sure public safety agencies have guidelines and standards to follow when adaptation of this technology becomes mandatory.

Read part two of this series »


Looking Back at The Call

From devastating fires to terrorist attacks to fugitives on the run, the content from The Call shows the dedication of public safety personnel throughout the United States.

These stories feature public safety officials from Snohomish County, Washington, Kankakee County, Illinois, and Greenbelt, Maryland. While each location is vastly different from the next, the common thread of serving the public is what is highlighted in each piece.

We are looking forward to sharing more public safety content in 2017!


Bogus 9-1-1 Call Leads to Change in Law

Heinous crimes often times result in changes to the law. In 2010, one of those crimes happened in Kankakee County, Illinois.

A call came in to 9-1-1 regarding five bodies in a trailer. The dispatcher who took the call sent two deputies to the scene. The deputies rode together and traveled at 102 mph down rural roads to the alleged trailer. But they never made it.

The vehicle the deputies were traveling in went off the road when its tire blew out and rolled five times. Deputy David Stukenborg's spine was shattered in the accident and rendered him paralyzed from the chest down. The other officer suffered non-life threatening injuries.

According to Trent Bukowski, IT manager for the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office, the woman who made the call did so to anger her ex-boyfriend. She knew there were no bodies in the trailer and that no crime had been committed, but wanted her ex-boyfriend to get into trouble.

When the accident involving the deputies was discovered along with the fact that the call was bogus, authorities reacted quickly to discover who made the call.

Unfortunately, the call was placed by a disposable cell phone and was not trackable by traditional methods. However, there was one location where that number was previously tracked: The corrections system used by the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office.

Bukowski said the number from the disposable cell phone was entered into the corrections system when the woman who made the call visited her ex-boyfriend in the county jail. This visit took place months before when the two individuals were still a couple.

"Since our records and corrections systems share data automatically, it makes it easier for us in multiple ways," Bukowski said. "If we hadn't entered that number into the system when this woman visited, we might not have ever found out who made that call."

After the deputy was paralyzed responding to the prank call, the Illinois General Assembly put a new law into effect Jan. 1, 2011. The new law states that a person found guilty of making a false 9-1-1 call will be charged with a Class 4 felony. This crime is punishable by one to three years in prison and carries a $25,000 fine.

This is a stark contrast to the previous law, which classified the same crime as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and one year in jail. The woman who made the prank call that paralyzed the officer was fined and served 364 days in the county jail.


Patrolling Greenbelt Using Data

Increasing patrol in areas of high crime is nothing new for most jurisdictions.

According to CAD Manager Mike Dewey of the Greenbelt Police Department, patrolling crime hotspots is a priority. Ensuring other areas of the city are also covered efficiently is something they do as well through the use of their mapping software.

Dewey said he monitors patrol patterns in real time, which helps to identify areas of high saturation. High saturation can indicate areas known for higher crime rates, which leads to an increase of patrol. It can also show where several police cars are following a response to a call for service.

Being able to identify these areas empowers everyone from supervisors to dispatchers to officers in the field to see where each police unit is located.

From there, officers have the ability to move from areas of high saturation to areas of lighter coverage. This maximizes the police department's coverage of the entire city and provides effective coverage for a community.

"Using the software to watch where officers have been recently allows the shift to function as more of a coordinated unit," Dewey said. "Without this ability, it is much more likely that areas in the community would inadvertently get less efficient coverage."

The mapping capabilities of Greenbelt's public safety software also aids in faster response times. For instance, when a call comes in to the dispatch center but has not yet been assigned, officers in the field can see that the call has been queued up and can start driving in the direction where there is a need for service.

In taking this proactive measure, officers are en route faster and arrive on the scene quicker once the address is provided or units are assigned.

"The capabilities of our software system definitely result in faster response times," Dewey said.

Video: Increasing Efficiency with the Greenbelt Police Department


Corrections Officers Reduce Inmate Fighting in County Jail

Eliminating fighting in a correctional facility is nearly impossible, but there are ways it can be reduced.

The Jerome Combs Detention Facility in Kankakee, Illinois is no stranger to inmate fights. However, corrections officers working at this facility utilize their corrections software to help reduce the number of fights on the grounds.

According to corrections officer Justin LeSage, this software helps to make sure that certain inmates are never housed together.

"We get inmates in here who are purposely looking to start a fight with other inmates," LeSage said. "It can be retribution or retaliation or at random. But with our corrections software, we are able to make sure that inmates with known associates or affiliations are not given the opportunity to get into trouble with another inmate."

LeSage said he faced one incident where an inmate in the Jerome Combs Detention Facility was awaiting sentencing for the murder of a woman.

The murdered woman's boyfriend committed a crime and declined to post bond so that he could enter the jail to kill his girlfriend's killer. Once brought to the detention facility, the man wanted to be housed in the same area as his girlfriend's killer.

What the man didn't know was that the corrections software classification and records keeping system prevented that from happening because his known associates were already listed.

"If we didn't have this software and inmates were housed together when they shouldn't be, who knows what could happen," LeSage said.

With this information, jail managers and corrections officers are able to manage jail populations, track inmates and prevent incidences from occurring.

Identifying Bodies with New World Software

Watch Sheriff Michael Downey discuss how the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office used software to identify a body.


Police Keep Community Safe Using Mission-Critical Data

When a 9-1-1 hang up call comes into a dispatch center, call takers immediately call back to determine whether help is needed or not. But when dispatchers call back and don't get an answer, they know there could be a problem.

When dispatch personnel with the Greenbelt Police Department received a 9-1-1 hang up call in early 2016, they immediately called back and were connected to a fax machine.

Dispatch searched the number in their computer aided dispatch (CAD) system and was able to come up with an address associated with the number so that an officer could head out to the location. The first officer routed to the location quickly investigated the situation and individual on the scene.

According to CAD Manager Mike Dewey of the Greenbelt Police Department, that officer on the scene immediately identified that the individual at the apartment was possibly undergoing some kind of mental health issue or under the influence of drugs.

While on the scene, the officer accessed premise history through his mobile data terminal in his patrol car and was able to see that a known Phencyclidine (PCP) user lived on the premises.

"PCP is a hallucinogenic drug that has a tendency to cause violent outbursts," Dewey said. "PCP can be an extremely dangerous addition to any call for service, and in this scenario, the lone officer was able to back out of the environment and call for sufficient additional resources."

According to Dewey, without the data sharing between the records and mobile solutions in the police department's public safety software to provide instant prior history information, this situation could have been dangerous for the officer and the individual who made the 9-1-1 call.

Instead, additional units responded to help the officer, which ensured there was no injury to the officers or the individual under the influence of drugs.

"Without enough officers to effectively handle the scene, you risk injury to everyone involved," Dewey said. "Our software helps us prevent these situations from happening."


Burglary Ring Busted by Law Enforcement

When cutbacks in 2015 resulted in a reduction of officers on patrol throughout Kankakee County, the county experienced a rash of burglaries.

For three weeks, burglars ransacked homes in search of guns, jewelry, electronics, cash and anything else of value.

"It got to the point where you were either a victim of the burglaries, neighbors with someone who had been a victim or afraid of becoming a victim," according to Becky Powell, Investigation's Officer Manager for the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office.

The burglaries took place in Kankakee's neighboring counties as well, and all information from those incidences were entered into Kankakee's records system.

This collection of shared data along with tips that were called in helped generate documents in the records system so that law enforcement officials and other individuals involved in solving the case had instant, accessible information.

"The criminals involved in the burglaries knew that we had a reduction in force," Trent Bukowski, IT Director for the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office said. "They took advantage of the lighter patrol that was going on throughout the county."

A break in the case came when the burglars were caught on a security camera stealing from a Walmart store in Kankakee. The surveillance footage provided a description of the offenders and the two vehicles they were driving.

What was especially notable about this footage was that one of the burglars was seen wearing a Chicago Bulls t-shirt in the video. This helped investigators tie the individual to a residential burglary that took place later in which that same shirt was found at the scene.

These descriptions were entered into Kankakee's records system and alerts were put out so that all officers in the county and surrounding areas knew what the suspects looked like and what cars they were driving.

Once officers were aware of this vital intelligence, they arrested the individuals as they left the scene of a burglary. The individuals were caught with items stolen from houses and items with tags on them from Walmart, which were purchased with stolen credit cards.

With the information sharing and data integration capabilities of the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office's computer aided dispatch, records, mobile, field reporting and corrections public safety software solutions, these criminals were able to be brought to justice.