The Edinburg Police Department unveiled a new trial program which they predict will help save lives during a news conference Friday afternoon.
The new program is called the Critical Response Group 911 Eye Emergency Streaming Software, and is currently in use by only two other police departments in the United States, according to a news release.
The new program allows a dispatcher to send a link to the cellphone of the 911 caller, who can then send a live video stream back to the dispatcher with the exact location of the caller.
“God forbid in the event of an active shooter situation, we get to live stream what’s happening out in the field so that our officers that are responding, we know what we’re looking for and to make sure that we seize the threat as soon as possible,” said Edinburg Chief of Police Cesar Torres.
Torres said that he believes that the program will help the police department be more protective of the citizens of Edinburg.
“Well honestly, we don’t want our citizens to get close to any threat,” Torres said. “It’s important that they know that once they’re pointing their phone to the threat, we can see it live here, and we’ll be able to see it in our squad cars as our officers are responding to the scene. We might not be asking questions as to what he or she is wearing or doing because we’ll be able to stream it and look at it as it’s happening.”
The police chief explained that the trial run of the new program began Friday, and it will be tested throughout the upcoming week. The software will be available to stream from squad cars beginning next week. Torres also explained that the police department will be able to stream four videos at once.
“As it looks, I like it. And if we like it, we’re going to have it,” said Torres.
Following the news conference, the police department provided a demonstration for those in attendance of the new program by having Public Information Officer Ariel Benedict call 911 from her cellphone outside of the department.
The call was taken by communications officer Elias Martinez, who sent the link to Benedict. Once she clicked on the link, the dispatcher was then able to pull up a video feed on his computer as well as a map of her exact coordinates.
“I think this is great,” said Martinez after the demonstration. “This is going to help us because some of the people calling in, some of them can’t talk. Some of them are in immediate danger. This allows them to point (their smartphone) safely, or they can just leave the phone on and walk away from the situation. We’ll have all the access and the information.”
He explained that the new program will help save lives by cutting down on the time it takes to get the information to the responding officers.
“It’s going to cut time from us having to get the information from the caller, decipher it, and then give it out to the units on the road, “ Martinez said. “This is going to go from the caller straight to the units. It gives them a better understanding of what’s going on, and it allows us to document what’s going on. It’s safer for the officers as well.”