Mesa Police Department’s new Real Time Crime Center deploys Live911

Success Stories

Mesa Police Department's New Real Time Crime Center Deploys Live911

RTCC leverages innovative livestreaming technology to improve operational intelligence and enable officers to respond faster.

The City of Mesa, located just east of Phoenix, is the third-largest city in Arizona and ranks 36th in the US with a population of 504,258. The Mesa Police Department, comprised of 800 sworn officers and 500 civilian support staff, protects its citizens over a vast sprawl of 140 square miles.

In July 2021, the Mesa City Council approved plans for a Real Time Crime Center (RTCC). The mission of Mesa’s RTCC is to equip the police department, first responders and public safety supervisors with a variety of new and evolving technologies for efficient and effective public safety response. The new center will allow critical information and intelligence to be gathered, quickly assessed, and disseminated in real time back to first responders and public safety supervisors responsible for the management of public safety emergencies.

In addition, the center will support public safety response to large scale special events throughout the City of Mesa, including events such as the Mesa Marathon, Celebration of Freedom, Merry Main Street and other special events.

“We set out to provide real-time data to officers responding to calls for service and enable them to get an edge on their response time. Whether it’s 30 seconds, a minute, or a few minutes, we want to leverage technology to provide better customer service, make our city safer and protect our officers.” – Lieutenant Ryan Stokes

Creating a Real Time Crime Center Infrastructure

RTCCs are intended to initially triage information from a call for service and provide information – such as suspect vehicle descriptions, victim or suspect criminal histories, and other pertinent information – on the fly to assist in furthering an officer’s investigation and response during call.

Lt. Ryan Stokes has been with the City of Mesa Police Department for 21-years. He and his development team were instrumental in researching and implementing various technologies for its RTCC. They began by visiting centers across the country and evaluating an array of innovative technologies being used, including HigherGround’s Live911 solution.

“We brought that concept back thinking this would be a great tool for our crime center operations. Live911 could give us a head start by immediately showing the location of the caller as emergency calls come in and allow us to hear bits of information at the same time as dispatchers are inputting their data,” says Stokes.

The RTCC went live in May 2022 and includes state-of-the-art software, mapping systems, consoles and RMS/CAD components – integrating multiple public safety information systems and linking them with video cameras throughout the City of Mesa. The 24/7 surveillance hub is fitted with an impressive “video wall” of live streaming closed-circuit television (CCTV) and drone feeds.

“Creating a fully-integrated Real Time Crime Center is not for the faint of heart,” says Sergeant Matt Kuntz. “I’ll say Live911 has probably been the fastest and most seamless of applications to get up and running. It was basically plug-and-play. And it didn’t take long for people to see its power in helping our investigations.”

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Live911 has been mind blowing. When a 911 call comes in, we can find the precise location of the caller, orient ourselves with video for that area, zoom in, while listening to the sense of urgency and specific details provided on the call. We are able to inform officers in the field with critical information at record speed.

– Lieutenant Ryan Stokes, Mesa Police Department

Live911 helps spot crimes in progress

Live911 has assisted day-to-day operations such as capturing vehicles fleeing from a crime, quickly coordinating the blocking off of intersections after car accidents, and locating suspects.

In one instance, Detective Brian Elmore was operating the RTCC and heard a citizen call in about a person checking car doors in a parking lot of a grocery store. Det. Elmore was able to quickly bring up a camera in that area and see the individual leave the parking lot and board a light rail train.

Communicating this information in real time directly to officers in the field, he was able to pull up a camera at the next stop a mile east and saw the perpetrator exit and start walking northbound where officers were able to catch up to him and take him into custody.

“There is no way any of that would have happened without the jump Live911 provided me. The suspect would have already been out of the area by the time a call for service was dispatched,” said Elmore. “Having the ability to listen into that 911 call and get that couple of minutes’ headstart was key to a successful resolution. It’s these types of situations that Live911 technology is really proving valuable.”

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Polk County Sheriff’s Office utilizes Live911’s advanced geofencing capabilities

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Polk County Sheriff's Office utilizes Live911's advanced geofencing capabilities

PCSO uses Live911’s polygonal map overlays to configure geofence territories within its 2,010 square mile jurisdiction area.

Polk County in central Florida is the fourth largest county by area in the state. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) employs over 1,700 full-time staff (sworn, certified, and civilians), 300 part-time, and over 3,000 volunteer members. PCSO has earned ten professional accreditations in various areas of the agency.

The Sheriff administers patrol and investigative responsibilities in a vast primary service area that includes the unincorporated regions of the county, as well as six municipalities that have contracted with the PCSO to provide law enforcement services. These include: Frostproof, Polk City, Eagle Lake, Fort Meade, Dundee, and Mulberry. The patrol area is separated into two divisions and five districts.

An evolution of communication services for multiple communities

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office administers dispatching services for all police, fire, and emergency medical services in the county, with the exception of three cities that have their own Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). The service area for the Emergency Communications Center (ECC) has expanded in the past several years, due in part to the municipal partnerships. Last year, the ECC received 671,042 emergency and non-emergency calls; of those, 281,585 were calls for service that required dispatching deputy sheriffs and providing critical information to them in the field.

Polk County’s Sheriff Grady Judd was first elected in 2004 and has been re-elected every term since. Judd has also served as president of the Major County Sheriff’s Association, as well as the Florida Sheriff’s Association. He has an acute understanding of answering emergency calls, having started his career working for the PCSO in 1972 as a telecommunicator.

Kim Riggall also has a long history with PCSO and currently serves as the Application Support Supervisor in the Information Technology Division. Riggall’s role has grown from managing the CAD and RMS systems to overseeing all of the other technology applications used by the organization.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has always strived to embrace cutting edge technology, to see how we can do things better, and to get accurate real-time information to our officer’s in the field. Live911 allows us to do that.”

– Captain Greg Goreck

In early 2020, Sheriff Judd heard about a new technology being developed that could livestream 911 calls directly to first responders and asked Riggall to investigate. She reached out to HigherGround and signed up for its Live911 beta program.

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In the first 30 days we saved 3 lives. We saved a child who was choking because we got there before fire or EMS. We also saved two people with our AED who were having cardiac arrests. Live911 is a remarkable tool that has helped us to arrive at emergencies quicker and saves lives. It’s a game changer!

– Sheriff Grady Judd

The first Sheriff’s Office in the U.S. to deploy Live911

“I have worked with a lot of technology companies in my 25 years, and the customer service that we receive from the team at HigherGround is impeccable,” said Riggall. “We’re getting immediate responses to issues and that should be praised. In the technology world, it’s not common.” PCSO signed on for an evaluation and testing period to range from six months to one year using 10 licenses in the Southeast section of the county.

There were some minor issues in the beginning, such as upgrading half of the deputies’ laptops from a Windows 7 environment to a Windows 10 version so Live911 could be installed. Also, the mobile application the deputies use has an externally USB-connected GPS device. “HigherGround’s team had to program Live911 to allow it to share the port while still allowing our mobile application to maintain that ABL/GPS connection for our officers’ safety,” said Riggall. “Honestly, I was quite surprised they were able to do that because we’ve been trying to accomplish this with other software vendors and nobody else could.”

Another significant contribution from PCSO’s testing was advancing the software’s geofencing capabilities that allow officers to filter and hear only livestreaming emergency calls within their designated area. “We are a large scale organization with a large geography. When we first started the beta, our deputies were saying, ‘It would be easier to see my boundary, our sector, and the district beat boundaries,” said Riggall.

HigherGround improved the geofencing feature from evolving a standard circle with distance radius to using polygonal map overlays – allowing the configuration of more specific geofence territories such as designated street borders or city limits.

Decreased Response Times

Captain Greg Goreck is the commander of the Southeast District and managed the beta testing and implementation of Live911 for the entire Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

“So far, we have caught four hit-and-run suspects. With calls that are in progress, law enforcement is sometimes hindered by the delays associated with the normal procedure of daisy chaining questions from the dispatcher, to the call taker, to the caller, and then awaiting the response back through the same chain,” said Goreck. “But with Live911, when a witness calls in and is following a suspect, we are able to hear the play-by-play, turn-by-turn, and are able to make the stop within minutes.”

In another example while monitoring Live 911, a deputy heard a call come in reporting a disturbance. Based on the agency’s 911 protocol, the call taker had immediately asked the caller for the location of the incident, which was approximately 1 mile from the deputy’s location. The deputy was able to self-dispatch, arriving on scene in 73 seconds and intervening before a crime was committed.

After the initial beta program in 2021, the PCSO deployed 180 concurrent licenses to deputies and plans to expand even further after presenting the solution to its city partners in the community we serve.

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Chula Vista Police Department enhances drone as first responder program with Live911

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Chula Vista Police Department enhances drone as first responder program with Live911

CVPD leverages Live911 and new drone technology to provide officers with more information to make better-informed decisions.

The Chula Vista Police Department, located in Southern California eight miles south of San Diego and eight miles north of the Mexico border, has a rich history as an early adopter of cutting edge innovation to improve public safety for its community.

Since launching its Drone as First Responder (DFR) program in October 2018, the Chula Vista Police Department has dispatched drones to 911 calls 3,508 times and drones have assisted in 452 arrests. As the only law enforcement agency that is part of the FAA’s Integration Pilot Program, a program that seeks to establish the ground rules of incorporating drones into the national airspace, CVPD is shaping drone policy that police departments throughout the country could one day adopt.

For decades, CVPD has maintained a culture of community-based policing, community engagement, and accountability. To that end, it established a publicly accessible website that tracks each drone’s flight path, duration, and reason for launch. Additionally, the department has committed not to use drones for general surveillance. Instead, drones are dispatched only when a 911 call comes in.

Live911 provides new insights to drone program

In early 2019, the Chula Vista Police Department partnered with HigherGround, the industry’s leading developer of solution-based public safety software, to develop, refine, and test a new technology aptly called “Live911”. The vision for this solution that closes the gap between police dispatcher to first responders came from Fritz Reber, a retired Chula Vista Police Captain.

For Live911’s initial beta testing, CVPD applied it to the Drone as First Responder program. A police officer (teleoperator) launches pre-positioned drones toward incoming calls for service, arriving before ground units, and providing critical tactical information to guide response and improve outcomes. With Live911, the teleoperator has the ability to launch at the earliest possible moment based upon the incoming 911 call, often arriving on scene before the call is even entered into CAD.

For instance, Police Agent Matt Hardesty was in the drone center and heard a 911 call come in, then the caller immediately hung-up. A dispatcher called that number back and the female who answered said it was an accident. “But I heard somebody yell in the background,” said Hardesty. “And I thought it just didn’t sound right.” Because he had access to the caller’s address on the Live911 screen, he flew a drone over to the house to see if there was any activity.

From overhead, Hardesty saw a young girl leave the house with a large knife and walk up to a Mercedes in the driveway and start scratching it. Within seconds, a woman (her mother) jumps out of a window and a confrontation begins with a knife waving. “At this point there’s been no call for service. There’s no officers being sent,” said Hardesty. “So I’m seeing this and get on the air and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a confrontation between two people involving a knife. We need to send units.” A Code 3 with lights and sirens was sent and fortunately no one was harmed.

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I’m hearing the calls in real time and launching a drone often before the call is even dispatched to an officer. In terms of response times, it’s pretty ridiculous. The drones arrive up to three minutes earlier on the scene ahead of the patrol vehicle and provides them with up-to-date information.

– Agent Matt Hardesty, Drone as First Responder Pilot

The ultimate combination for situational awareness

Following the drone program’s success with Live911, CVPD rolled out the software for its entire department. Time is never on a first responder’s side. Providing officers in the field the ability to monitor incoming live 911 calls gives them a “head start” by eliminating standard delays from dispatching.

We have to give our officers, our first responders, more information. That is critical right now as we talk about de-escalation and the challenges law enforcement is facing. Live911 is an opportunity to help officers make better informed decisions, to respond faster, and to save people’s lives.”

– CVPD Chief Roxana Kennedy

“Not only can officers get the audio of the call and see on a map the precise location of where it is happening, both the officers and dispatcher get to see a simultaneous video feed if a drone is on scene,” said Fritz Reber, former CVPD Captain and Skydio’s Head of Public Safety Integration. “That is the perfect ecosystem for immediate situational awareness.”

The CVPD received a call about a man waving a gun around at a local taco stand – scaring patrons eating outside. As officers heard the call and started driving to the scene, a drone was also sent. The drone operator, Agent Hardesty, saw a man holding what appeared to be a gun in his hand. “With a potential armed subject, this was going to be a high-risk situation. You know, guns are going to be drawn and bad things could happen,” said Hardesty. “While I was watching this and hearing all of the updates from the caller talking to our dispatcher via Live911, I saw him pick-up the gun-shaped item and light his cigarette with it. I could even see him exhale the smoke.” Hardesty was able to immediately tell this critical information to patrol officers en route so they could de-escalate their approach.

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Clovis Police Department delivers a new level of efficiency with Live911

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Clovis Police Department delivers a new level of efficiency with Live911

Livestreaming emergency 911 calls to first responders increases situational awareness and significantly improves response times.

Since its incorporation in 1912, Clovis, California has been known as the Gateway to the Sierra due to its location at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Clovis is ranked as the safest city in the Central Valley and was recently named the “Best City in California to Raise a Family.” “These are true testaments to all the employees and volunteers who work diligently to provide a secure community for all of us,” said Curt Fleming, Chief of Police.

Clovis-native Police Lt. Jim Munro has seen a lot of growth and improvements during his 22 years with the agency. As a teenager, a family member took him on a few ride-alongs and he became hooked on law enforcement. As a student at California State University in nearby Fresno, Munro worked as a part-time dispatcher for Clovis PD working graveyard shifts and weekends. He then attended the policy academy and became a sworn officer.

Upon rising through the ranks to Sergeant, Munro returned to dispatch for several years as its supervisor. “The dispatchers were excited to know my past experience and that I understood exactly what they were dealing with,” said Munro. “However, from a technology perspective, much had changed in fifteen years. When I was working there previously, we were still using rolodexes, binders full of information sheets, and a very basic DOS-based command line system.” The communication center was now equipped with advanced technology such as a dynamic Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system and Records Management System (RMS).

Clovis PD continues reputation as an early adopter of innovative technology

Munro is now a Lieutenant. In addition to supervising patrol shifts, he oversees all of the technology projects for the department, including a video unit of 450 cameras placed strategically throughout Clovis, a new drone as first responder program, and, most recently, Live911.

In 2019, Chief Fleming and Munro visited the Chula Vista Police Department in San Diego County to review its drone as a first responder (DFR) program. At the time, CVPD’s drone command center was beta testing a new technology that livestreamed 911 emergency calls and showed the precise GPS map location of the caller. This solution was giving CPVP drone operators a “head start” launching a drone in advance of the call details being dispatched to officers.

Clovis PD
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When we saw Live911 in action, we thought that would be a really, really good idea for our officers in the field. We’re always looking for innovative ways to make our staff more efficient

– Lt. Jim Munro, Clovis Police Department

Employing new strategies and advanced technology to maximize efficiency

Whether in dispatch, patrol, or records, Clovis PD is always seeking innovation that can be used to optimize its limited resources. This is especially important because the city of Clovis is growing at the same time the police department is experiencing staffing challenges. “We want technology that can make a difference, safeguard our community, and allow the police department to operate more effectively. That is why we wanted to test Live911, because we felt it checked those boxes,” said Munro.

Munro contacted HigherGround, a developer of solution-based software, and became the second police department in the U.S. to beta test Live911 technology. With Live911, Clovis’ officers can hear the caller’s voice in realtime revealing the sense of urgency, small details that may not otherwise be provided, and have access to immediate updates on the situation. In addition, Live911 uses RapidSOS to identify caller location details previously available only to dispatchers.

“Even though our dispatchers are super-fast and do great work, depending on how busy they are, it can take a minute and a half to two minutes to get that information out to the officers in the field,” says Munro. “Live911 has been a game changer to be honest with you.”

We’ve never had the opportunity in my 22 years to listen in the car to 911 calls live as they come in, this has significantly reduced our response times and provided a lot more details about the incident.”

– Lt. Jim Munro, Clovis Police Department

First responders receive vital information in real time

Officers on patrol were listening to Live911 when they heard a medical aid call about a person in cardiac arrest that eventually and correctly dispatched for ambulance. As the call was coming in, the unit was located close to the scene and arrived on site while CPR was being performed by the victim’s brother. The police officers took over CPR compressions and used a bag mask valve ventilation technique until the subject started breathing and had a pulse. Soon after, EMS arrived and transported the revived person. Had Live911 not been in place, the officers wouldn’t have known about this emergency or been able to provide aid as it was never dispatched to patrol.

Clovis completed its initial six-month test of 20 licenses. Munro received positive feedback from officers and noted his department had experienced a quick and easy learning curve to incorporate Live911 into their operations. Now, Live911 has been fully deployed and is available to all of Clovis’ 100 officers serving this community of 119,175 citizens.

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