Sandusky County Sheriff: 911 calls with photos, videos is future of police reporting (2024)

Sandusky County Sheriff: 911 calls with photos, videos is future of police reporting (1)

FREMONT - Sandusky County Sheriff Chris Hilton believes the future of police reporting will be done using technology.

His department isdemoing new software from Relay, which allows for people using the Relay application to send information to police, including statements on incidents, photos and videos that can uploaded right to an officer.

"These would be all non-emergency calls," Hilton said.

The sherifffound out about the new technology from a former classmate at the FBI academy. He said he is trying out the technology to see if it is applicable to Sandusky County.

"I really like it," Hilton said. "We haven't discussed monetary value with the company."

But the sheriff said he has not talked about how much something like Relay would cost, thinking a service like this could cost around $50,000 to install.

Hilton said it could be a year before moving on a service like Relay and said he would have to get support from Lisa Kuelling, the county's 911 director.He also said he will research other companies offering similar services.

There are around 100 agencies in the country using Relay but none in Ohio, Hilton said.

His goal is in five years to utilize Relay or a similar service as a records system where every photo, statement or video sent by a witness would be uploaded into the police report.

Sandusky County Sheriff: 911 calls with photos, videos is future of police reporting (2)

Hilton said said an email or phone number would be attached to the person using the app to allow police to follow up with additional questions and investigation.

The software would not replace dispatchers, Hilton said, rather it would allow them to take more pressing calls for incidents such asinjury crashes, assaults and homicides.

And dispatchers would be able to see if a Relay report comes through and could radio to officers if they are not accepting a call.

Hilton said if someone gets into a minor crash, or they see a suspicious person or vehicle, they can open the app and begin reporting the incident to police.

Being able to upload photos or videos would also allow police to know what they are looking for or to use it as evidence in a case.

If a suspicious vehicle is photographed leaving a scene, for example, Hilton said a photo could alert police if the owner has any warrants and what the make and model of the vehicle are before beginning their search.

"It's streamlining the process," Hilton said.

And Hilton said if the incident becomes more severe and requires immediate police response, there will be a button on the screen to call 911.

The company, Relay, is relatively new, Hilton said, being in its first year of operation, but he said he can see the value having witnesses load statements or photos or videos to officers rather than waiting for an officer to get to the scene.

But within its first year, the company is already providing its 911 tech service to departments in Oshkosh, Wis., and Fishers, Ind.

Sandusky County Sheriff: 911 calls with photos, videos is future of police reporting (3)

Some Ohio dispatchers, including the dispatch center for the Wooster-Ashland Regional Council of Governments, recently began using a similar tool called 911eye which lets citizens send video to dispatchers.

Hilton said a service such asRelay would be invaluable to his dispatchers, freeing them up to take on more serious calls.

"A lot of times things get lost in translation," Hilton said when it comes to taking calls.

When someone said they were robbed, Hilton said that tells him there was a gun involved. When someone reports a purse or wallet stolen that was left in a vehicle, that is a theft and is a call the local department can take, rather than the 911 dispatch center.

The dispatch center takes around 20,000 calls each year, with all cell phone calls for 911 coming directly to the dispatch center.

Last year, the sheriff's office teamed with Fremont and Gibsonburg police departments to share 911 services.

The app would need to be downloaded by local citizensand when they open it up to file a report, officers with a corresponding software on their phone would be alerted.

The only drawback, Hilton said, is that Sandusky County has an older population, with more baby boomers and elderly than millennials and many are not quick to adapt to new technology.

But 15 to 20 years down the road, he envisions a large chunk of residents using the Relay application.

"I see as a cutting-edge thing," Hilton said. "I think the potential is there."


Twitter: @CraigShoupNH

Sandusky County Sheriff: 911 calls with photos, videos is future of police reporting (2024)
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