July 11, 2013
IUPA joins Find Me 911 Coalition to Ensure 911 Works in Today’s Wireless Age
Police and dispatchers' real-world experiences highlight the critical need for accurate indoor location in emergencies
The International Union of Police Associations (IUPA) has joined Find Me 911, a coalition of emergency responders, 911 dispatchers and others interested in helping first responders find people facing emergencies and determined to ensure that the 911 emergency location function works in today’s wireless age.
“Find Me 911 is working to address a critical issue faced daily by law enforcement personnel and dispatchers. Accurate location information, especially indoors, would decrease the response time of law enforcement and other first responders in our efforts to save lives,” said IUPA’s International President, Sam A. Cabral. “Inadequate, or non-existent location information when calls come from wireless phones is a pressing public policy issue that the FCC must address.”
IUPA, a member of AFL-CIO, is a union of law enforcement and law enforcement support personnel with over 70,000 members. IUPA’s members are on the front-lines of first response.
“When a 911 call comes in from a cell phone, I pray the person knows where they are and can communicate. If they are inside a building and GPS isn't working, then it's likely I will not have a specific location inside the building. Other than the building’s address, I have no location information at all. If they are inside an apartment in a multi family dwelling, technology doesn’t plot which apartment. It feels helpless to know someone is in danger, but we can't locate them without going door to door which takes valuable time," said Dawn Travis, 911 Coordinator for the Henry Co. Sheriff’s Office and a member of IUPA Local #64. "It gets worse every day with the majority of our calls coming in from mobile phones, especially in a school shooting where children are at risk and we don’t know where in the school the shooter is."
The FCC estimates that of the roughly 240 million 911 calls placed each year, 70 percent are now placed from wireless phones. At least 50 percent of all wireless 911 calls originate indoors, according to industry estimates. And nearly one-third of households in the United States are wireless-only, with no landline, making them totally reliant on wireless phones during emergencies.
“When I am dispatched to an emergency situation based on a 911 call, I hope it comes from a landline because we just don’t get reliable data from cell phones,” said Police Officer Tim Shortgen, President of the Defiance (OH) Police Officers Association, IUPA Local #166. “We need faster, more accurate information to keep people safe.”
Originally chartered in 1979, the International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO is the only AFL-CIO chartered labor union that exclusively represents law enforcement officers and other support personnel. An estimated 80,000 law enforcement personnel (one out of every four eligible) represented by the I.U.P.A. are all full time employees of law enforcement agencies ranging from line officers up to first line supervisors as well as civilian employees. The I.U.P.A.’s mission is to protect and advance officers’ wages, benefits and work conditions. Membership includes officers from agencies throughout the United States and in the Caribbean. More information is available at www.iupa.org.