Jonesboro E-911 soon to have texting feature

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - As technology continues to advance so does the Jonesboro E-911 center.

According to Jeff Presley, E-911 director for Jonesboro and Craighead County, they are moving in a direction that would speed up the response time to calls.

"911 has only been in the United States for about 50 years and only in Jonesboro since 1991 so we have come a long way over the years," said Presley. "We are going from paper logs to paper maps to now, Next Generation 911."

Next Generation 911 is a national initiative that Presley said will move them better into the digital age as well as help speed up communication for citizens and officers.

"Last year, we upgraded our phone system in the NextGen platform and it has been great," said Presley. "In a couple of months, we will be able to get live text in a Text to 911 system."

Presley said the texting format will act just as a normal call. He added that down the line, they hope to have a system where citizens can shoot photos and live stream videos to dispatch.

"That will help in scenarios such as a bank robbery," said Presley. "If there were witnesses there, they could snap a picture and send it to dispatch and police would know the description of the suspect before they even arrive on the scene."

Paul Holmes with the Jonesboro Police Department agrees, saying it could improve the safety of officers as well.

"They will know exactly what they are getting themselves into in any situation," said Holmes. "They will know if a situation is hazardous, or if they need the proper resources or backup."

Holmes also said having the NG911 would clear up the pileup of calls they get in emergency situations.

"If there was an accident they would not be overwhelmed with several calls coming into dispatch," said Holmes. "Dispatcher can just focus on a few calls or respond to a few messages while getting the high-quality information they need for officers."

Presley said upgrading to the Next Generation 911 system will cost money, but luckily they qualify with Arkansas minimum standards to make that happen.

"Last year Arkansas began enforcing the standards, where at least 50% of the personnel in a workplace need to be certified in order to receive grants and funds," said Presley.

Presley said currently their staff is 95% certified.

"We have been very proactive in getting our staff up to state standards," said Presley. "We have two certified training officers here where we are able to a lot of in house training."

Presley even said they hold these three-month long training classes for agencies in surrounding counties to help them stay with state standards.

"We basically go by the training standard the state goes by," said Presley. "Call taking, officer safety, and liability issues that they could encounter in the 911 system."

In the end, Presley said it is all about teamwork.

"911 is customer based and we got to make sure we are doing a great job for them," said Presley. "When we receive calls for fire officials, officers, and everyone, we have a network that is a circle of teams. 911 dispatchers start out that call. If it doesn't go right for the 911 side of it, it is not going to go right out in that field."

Presley said they hope to have the Text to 911 system up and running in a few months.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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