Collier County Sheriff’s Office 911 dispatchers can now receive photos, videos from callers

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
CCSO Dispatchers Can Receive Photos, Videos From Callers

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is the first public law enforcement agency in Florida to provide the community with the ability to text photos and videos to 911 dispatchers.

The cloud-based technology will give first responders nearly instant access to pictures and videos of suspects, suspicious vehicles, or emergency scenes. When someone in Collier County uses a cell phone to call 911 or our non-emergency number, (239)252-9300, they can send photos and/or videos to dispatchers. The dispatchers can forward those videos and images to first responders.

“Collier County 911 what’s the address of your emergency?”

They receive about 300 to 500 calls a day. “Let me see if I can find that number for you…”

911 dispatcher Joseph Nelson had over a decade of experience. “This is I guess my calling. This is where I wanna be,” said Nelson who is a Public Safety Officer for Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

They deal with everything from medical emergencies to burglaries. “I love the action some of the high priority hot calls we’ll get,” said Nelson.

But, as Communications Training Coordinator Amy Tuff says the job comes with its own set of challenges. “Just being able to only hear what the callers are reporting rather than not being able to actually see what’s taking place,” she said.

But that’s what this new technology is trying to change.

This next-generation 911 system lets callers text photos or videos of crimes in progress, scenes or a missing person.

“Now instead of having to fully describe that to us they can just send us that picture and we can relay it to the responders,” said Tuff.

It gives Nelson the opportunity to keep assisting. “I want to help people,” he said.

“We have always told our community, ‘See it, say it’,” said Sheriff Kevin Rambosk. “Now we can tell them, ‘See it, say it, send it.”

Sheriff Rambosk said this is next-generation 911 technology that enhances public safety.

“The more information first responders have, the quicker they can help, and a picture is worth 1,000 words,” he said.

In the case of a missing child or endangered adult, for example, the person calling 911 to make a report can text a photo of the missing person to dispatchers, who can share it with first responders throughout the county within seconds. Witnesses to a car crash can send images or video clips that show first responders the number of people who are injured, their location at the crash site and how severe the crash was.

The capability will also prove to be an asset in a post-hurricane situation, said CCSO Communications Director Bob Finney.

“People will be able to send us pictures and videos of damaged areas and roads that are blocked by fallen trees or downed power lines,” Director Finney said. “This will help us prioritize the areas that need us the most.”

In 2014 the Collier County Sheriff’s Office was the first agency in Florida to provide text-to-911 service to its community.

“We are always looking at technology to identify ways we can enhance public safety here in Collier County,” Sheriff Rambosk said.

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