Mattapoisett First with Live911

            Mattapoisett residents now have an added layer of protection with improved response times to 911 calls, thanks in no small part to the innovating character of its police force headed by Chief Jason King. Since being tapped as the department chief, King has been looking for ways to improve the services provided by the Police Department.

            Recently while perusing a trade publication, King happened upon an article that detailed new software equipment for 911 calls and responses called Live911. The story went on to describe a small city in California that was using the system and the advantages provided. King was intrigued.

            After further study of the system and discussions with his staff, King filed an application in 2022 for a grant from the Massachusetts Department of 911 that could fund the emergency-response improvements. Fast-forward, today Live911 is being used in the field by the first Massachusetts town to have the system: Mattapoisett.

            “Now officers will hear the 911 call as it is coming into the dispatcher,” King said. “They’ll hear it firsthand and can pinpoint on their laptops the exact location of the caller.”

            Those precious seconds between the dispatcher receiving the call and relaying critical information to an officer in the field is now trimmed considerably, King explained. “A bit of information can make a big difference, and the officer is hearing the complete call, not just details shared by the dispatcher.”

            That’s not to minimize the work done by dispatchers. From the Live911 website, we find, “While 911 call takers are very fast in their ability to obtain information from callers, there is always a time lapse from when a 911 call is answered, details are typed and entered into the CAD, the dispatcher sends info to radio operator, it is read, airtime becomes clear and the call for service is broadcast. This process can take 90 seconds to two minutes before an officer even becomes aware of a critical situation.”

            Assisting King with the integration of Live911 was Mattapoisett Police Officer Sean Parker, the department’s defacto, computer go-to technician.

            “I’ll be out on patrol. A call coming into the station on 911 (that) I wouldn’t know about ahead of time until the dispatcher dispatches me. Now as the call comes in, it’s going to pop up on my screen. … I’ll get all of the information that the caller is giving dispatch in live time,” Parker explained.

            Parker went on to say that the incident’s location will be pinpointed. Laptop computers in police cruisers will access a split screen including two images, one pinpointing the exact location of the 911 call relative to surrounding patrol areas, the other a close-up overhead view of the location. Direct access and connection to the call can and does save precious minutes, the officer confirmed.

            Also displayed will be information now accessible as the call is being made. Knowing en route to a call the type of emergency aids the officers in preparing their response once at the scene.

            All 911 communications run through the state, so part of the system issues needing solutions were solved in conjunction with the state’s 911 program. Parker said everything is now operational.

            “We had to iron some things out, but we ended up getting everything working in collaboration with the state, Higher Ground (the creator of the software product) and our IT company … we got everything to work correctly, and it’s a great program.” The department isn’t taking anything for granted, however.

            While one might assume other municipalities in the commonwealth will soon be seeking consultation for their own prospective programs, Parker is focused on Mattapoisett. So far, so good, he said.

            “I think it’s too soon (to be thinking about other towns’ interest),” Parker said. “A lot of other departments are waiting to see what happens and if we got it up and running, which we did, so I think in the future, we’ll go from there and see what happens.

            “We were running in test mode for a little while, but now we’re up and running, and we haven’t had any problems since. … Dispatch needs to get a lot of information, they have to figure who’s calling, if there’s anyone there that can help. It’s a lot of information to gather before they give it to us.”

            What Mattapoisett officers now have is simultaneous access that will allow them precious time in response efforts. More information prior to arrival equips responders with more immediate and effective de-escalation techniques.

            Local schools are the highest priority for local police. LIVE911 calls from the schools will be transmitted via a “campus” link, enabling all officers to hear the call.

            Town Administrator Mike Lorenco stated, “The department took it on themselves.”

            Lorenco applauded the chief and his staff for taking on the opportunity, including obtaining the grant funds to pay for everything. “In this day and age, real-time data is important for situational awareness,” he said.

By Marilou Newell and Mick Colageo

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