With the third-highest homicide rate amongst the 50 largest cities, it’s easy to see that the Memphis Police Department needs every possible resource at its disposal. But as recently as three years ago, its emergency communications capabilities were in shambles. The communications infrastructure was aging and had been neglected for at least a decade. Maintenance was substandard for many of its systems and all were several releases behind in terms of their operating software. The department needed to address computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems that had reached end of life. Critical servers were out of drive space.
The 911 center was understaffed and plagued by archaic policies with emergency callers waiting for as long as seven minutes before their call was answered. “We were in bad shape,” says Michael Spencer, the police department’s emergency communications administrator. “There was a lot wrong. We were doing things every day just to keep things running.”