New System Will Mean Faster Police Response Times

Robbers and thieves beware. The City of Houston has a new computer system that will help police respond to alarms much faster. Bill Stamps explains how it works.

It’s called ASAP. When a house or business alarm goes off, you want police on the scene as soon as possible. But this ASAP stands for automated secure alarm protocol.

It’s basically a software system that allows alarm companies to send messages directly to emergency dispatchers instead of having to call a non-emergency operator, who then calls dispatch.

Houston Emergency Center Director David Cutler explains the process.

"The typical structure of an alarm call is an alarm call is received at a central alarm station they will pick up the phone and call our operators. Our operators with then create a call slip and CAD and send it to the police dispatcher. Under this new operation ASAP, it allows the call center operators to actually create that alarm slip and send it to the dispatchers, bypassing our call takers."

Cutler says city operators take thousands of calls a week on the nonemergency line — many of those are from alarm companies. If those calls go down, the city could save more than a million dollars a year in labor costs. But the bigger issue is safety and crime fighting.

"For the citizen at home, the big deal in this is it's going to get a police officer to your location faster. You don’t have the conversation that’s taking place between two operators trying to discern what the address is. 'Oops, I didn’t get that street right. Can you respell it, or hey, what’s the permit number on this.' This takes all of that out of it."

Houston is the first major city in the nation to switch to the new system. ASAP cost more than 300 thousand dollars to install, but the city believe it’ll easily make that money back.