The other day, as I sat in my room here in Afghanistan, I came across a Facebook post touting a feature that is available on the Hamilton County 911 website. This feature allows citizens to view all active calls, county-wide, for all emergency services (fire, police and EMS). I clicked on the link, which has apparently been active for a while now, and was absolutely shocked at what I saw.
The active calls popped up, showing various units enroute to and on the scene of calls across the county. One of the first calls that I saw was that police had been dispatched to a "Disorder with a Weapon" and others showed officers enroute to burglars alarms and disorders at other locations. Such a feature would allow a suspect to flee prior to police arrival, but more importantly, it may prompt a suspect to lie in wait for emergency workers to arrive on scene and ambush them.
Additionally, suspects could monitor the site to see where police officers are at and this would allow them to target an area to commit a crime or crimes. Law enforcement is already a tough job, why would the 911 board want to make it tougher?
This feature is, without a doubt, a double-edged sword. I am all for transparency in government and keeping citizens apprised of what is going on in the community, but to have such a feature active and available for anyone to see is absolutely insane and unsafe for emergency services workers. Why not have the system display calls after the emergency worker has cleared the scene?
As food for thought I leave you with this: It was fate that brought Marlon Duane Kiser and Deputy Donald Bond together on a dark night in September of 2001, do we really want technology to make it easier for the next Marlon Duane Kiser?