Peoria begins new Smart911 program to help callers in emergencies

Posted at 5:03 AM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 10:53:25-04

When it comes to getting residents the help they need, it all starts with one call to the dispatchers at 911. But, as with every emergency, time is usually not on their side. 

That is why one Valley police department is taking action to try to stretch the clock and possibly save more lives with a new program.

RELATED: How to text 911 in an emergency in Maricopa County

Smart911 was just implemented this month by the Peoria Police Department. They are the first West Valley city to add the program to their patrols. 

"It really gives a great option for people to add some information into the system that can help us in the long run," said Officer Brandon Sheffert with the department. 

Smart911 is a database that allows users to create a profile -- they can fill out information that would be helpful to police if the person was involved in an emergency like a phone number, home address and a gate code, for example.

Then, if a user was to call 911, the information would automatically pop up on the dispatcher screen to send to the officer responding to the call for help. 

Peoria Police said they decided to add the system to aid in some of their more difficult calls, as this system allows you to add specific details, even photos.  

"We're always scrambling to get photos of missing children or, you know, a lot of times we see those Silver Alerts or missing elderly."

RELATED: Smartphone technology gives you a voice during emergencies when you can't speak

Plus, it also allows users to give police a heads up about a loved one struggling with mental illness.

"Say Mom calls 911 and their son's autistic," Officer Sheffert explained. "Will we know that? Could we know that ahead of time?"

Officer Sheffert said your information is stored securely. In fact, privacy is so important, that police cannot even see your information until you call 911.

"I know some people are apprehensive about providing that type of information," Officer Sheffert said. "...It's totally up to you. If you don't want to provide something, don't provide it."

The Tempe Police Department was the first police department in the state to add the program back in 2014.

You can sign up for the service on the Smart911 website.

RELATED: Valley police departments looking to fill dispatcher jobs