911 Center Aims to Improve Response Time with New Camera System

By: Olivia Fecteau Email
By: Olivia Fecteau Email

GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Greenup County E911 is beefing up its emergency response system in light of the tragic mass shootings across the country this past year.

The county's emergency response center unveiled a new system called "Police Watch," which the center says will make it easier and quicker to get information and dispatch police to the scene of an emergency.

The system, designed by Tim Sparks of Advanced Surveillance, includes high-quality surveillance cameras and panic buttons. When pressed, the buttons immediately send information and a live video feed to the E911 center, allowing first responders to be dispatched more quickly to save precious time.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," Sparks said of the system.

Greenup County E911 is hoping to partner with schools and businesses to install cameras around the area. While the installation will be free for E911, individual organizations will have to purchase the system. However, Sparks said the system can be integrated with an already-existing surveillance system, so businesses don't need to spend extra money.

What they'll gain, he said, is "instant access with a surveillance system from a school, a business or whatever direct to the E911 center within a second of pressing a panic or holdup alarm."

Greenup County already has cameras in Russell schools that feed directly to the E911 center. Those cameras will be integrated with the Police Watch system to speed up response time.

The high-quality cameras can show precise details that are often grainy on regular surveillance cameras. Sparks and his partner Jay Couch demonstrated how emergency responders can zoom in on live or recorded video to identify suspects and even weapons.

"They know instantly what the suspect looks like," Sparks said. "They have pictures of him, they have video of him, they know what color shirt he's wearing, they know if he's got a ball bat or if he's got a handgun."

Banks and pharmacies are among the most targeted for armed robbers because of valuable money and medications. One pharmacy worker said his workplace already has a silent alarm system and surveillance cameras and wasn't sure if the new system would protect them further.

Sparks said systems like those rely on a middle man when an alarm is activated, alerting a company that may not even be located in the same city. That company then must call leaders of the business to make sure the alarm is legitimate and then can pass on information to 911 -- often incomplete information.

The important thing, Sparks said, is safety -- and making every second count in an emergency.

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