SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — In San Mateo County, police officers in the city of San Mateo can now listen to 911 calls in real time.

Traditionally, when someone dials 911, that call goes to a dispatcher who then contacts first responder with what they need to know. In the city of San Mateo, they have set up a system where police officers can listen to 911 calls as they happen. 

Starting this week, the San Mateo Police Department can now livestream 911 calls through laptops in their vehicles. The goal is to give officers responding to a call as much information as possible about the situation. 

In addition to hearing the call, officers can now see the location of the caller on a map. But the officers will only be able to listen in — not directly talk to someone on a 911 call. 

“Our officers aren’t replacing our dispatchers,” said San Mateo Police Department Officer Alison Gilmore. “But they will be able to do is get on the radio and speak to our dispatchers before the call has ended or add things while the call is happening rather than after the fact. 

The department says that so far, the system has been well received.  

“The way I like to compare it is a phone call or a text,” Gilmore said. “You can tell a lot when someone text messages you. We communicate all the time through text, but when someone calls you you can hear certain things in their voice and our officers now have the ability to do that.”

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The police department says the system was relatively inexpensive to set up. SMPD just had to buy the software. All the hardware, laptops and radios were already in the vehicles.