FAIRFIELD, NJ — In order to give police officers the ability to have virtual face-to-face contact with callers using a person’s cell phone camera to stream live real-time video of a scene directly to the police department’s dispatch center, the Fairfield Police Department has initiated the use of a new software technology known as "9-1-1Eye."

“The Fairfield Police Department had been considering obtaining this technology before this current emergency,” said Fairfield Police Chief Anthony Manna. “But now, with police departments across the country trying to limit their officers’ public contacts because of the coronavirus, this technology will allow for our officers to not have to go into every location that a call for service has been received from. Instead, they will monitor the condition remotely until it is resolved.”

How it works, according to Manna:

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When a caller dials into the police department via 9-1-1 or on a local department’s non-emergency line, the police dispatcher will answer the call and gather information and screen the call for service.

If the dispatcher feels that the call for service warrants the use of this new system, he or she will advise the caller to send a text message to their cell phone containing a link to click on. When the caller clicks on the link, he or she will be directed to a secure portal that will ask for the person for consent to use his or her cell phone camera and speaker.

Once the caller approves this, a “real-time” video will be streamed inside the police department in the dispatch center.

The video is taken using the person’s cell phone; however, the cell phone is not retaining any audio or video.  The cell phone is simply relaying the video inside the police department where it can be saved. The caller does not need to have anything installed on their cell phone to use this service and their phone will not retain anything on it as evidence; this software is used via Internet connection or cell phone data service. 

When the call is over, the dispatcher will disconnect the session from inside the police department. The caller will receive a notification via text message that the call has ended and that the connection has been terminated.

Manna advises West Essex-area residents that even in those cases where a dispatcher or police officer utilizes this software, a police officer will still be dispatched to the location in case further action is needed.