U Police get grant for E911 system

The system will eliminate on-campus emergency cell phone call transfers to the University Police Department.

by Koran Addo

The University Police Department will receive a grant for more than $150,000 today to improve emergency response times on campus.

The money will be used to implement an enhanced 911 system, known as E911.

Under the current system, the Minnesota State Patrol or the Minneapolis Police Department receives emergency calls made from cellular phones on campus.

The dispatcher then transfers the call to the University Police Department.

University police Deputy Chief Steve Johnson said it is imperative that University police are notified first in case of a University emergency because they have better knowledge of the University than outside agencies.

Lori-Anne Williams, communications director for University Services, said the E911 system removes the need to transfer calls, thereby quickening emergency response times.

Johnson also emphasized that the department’s average response time, while not officially tracked, is very good given the University’s unique layout.

“Response times won’t be affected in terms of how fast (police) respond once (police) get the call; we’re already very good with that,” he said. “But the communication time will be lessened by taking an extra link out.”

Williams said the University has been trying to bring the E911 system to campus for a while, but it was now only made possible through the grant from the Public Safety Foundation of America.

University officials said U.S. Rep. Martin Sabo, D-Minn., will present the grant on behalf of the foundation to the University today.

The Association of Public Safety Communication Officials established the foundation, which provides funding and support to it specifically to help institutions implement the E911 system.

Johnson said the grant is just the first step in implementing the new system and E911 working on campus is “still a ways out.”