Cell Phones Making it Difficult for Police to Pinpoint Location in Emergencies

Cell Phones Making it Difficult for Police to Pinpoint Location in Emergencies

Zora Asberry

NewsWest 9

ODESSA - In an emergency, the time between calling 911 and police arriving on scene can be crucial but can you rely on dispatch technology to find you in time?

It's a huge problem, for people who call 911 for help from their cell phones, instead of a landline. It makes it difficult for dispatchers to track down your location, especially when those cell phone calls drop.

Steve LeSueur, Public Information Officer for the Odessa Police Department, said, "One of the biggest issues is with ghost phones, just because the fact that you can't trace the line, you can't pinpoint the exact location trace. It is extremely difficult."

The Odessa Police Department currently does not have the capability to pinpoint the exact location of a caller but they can narrow the location down to the 200 to 300 yards from the call.

"They're always trying to improve the accuracy, and at this time, they're in the process of improving the exact pinpoint location for high rises, to pinpoint the exact floor that the caller is calling from. So that is another thing that they're currently working on, but other than that, the technology here in Odessa is excellent and it has been updated recently," LeSueur said.

If a call is dropped or if someone doesn't want their caller ID information displayed, the dispatch technology is capable of instantly storing the number so that all they have to do is press a button that will reconnect them with the caller.

"If somebody doesn't want their cell phone information coming up, they can call these numbers and it doesn't display anything but their phone number," LeSueur said.

But Odessa Police and dispatch do advise that callers be able to state their exact location so that the response time is much quicker.

"It's just important for the caller to give an accurate location of where they're calling from and to be aware of their surroundings, that way in case there is some type of emergency that goes down, they know exactly where they are," LeSueur said.

In an emergency situation, the Odessa Police Department encourages people to use the nearest landline if possible. If you are using a cell phone, know your exact location so that it makes it easier for police to respond.