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Mpls. to stop using controversial 911 dispatch software

"It was a danger. It was a danger to people that were responding to the calls."

MINNEAPOLIS — The city of Minneapolis has decided to stop using a computer system used to process 911 calls, which the city's police union and a former dispatcher call "dangerous" and "detrimental."

The system, called ProQA, was implemented by the city in 2017. 

"It was a danger. It was a danger to people that were responding to the calls," said former dispatcher Carri Sampson-Spande. 

Sampson-Spande says she quit her job as a 911 dispatcher for the city in September, in part, because of the ProQA system.

Sampson-Spande says the technology prompts dispatchers to ask certain questions to help walk them through a call, but she says she quickly realized it wasn't going to work.

"One-size-fits-all," Sampson-Spande described the software, "You had to not only ask  [the questions]  in the order that they were suggested, you had to read verbatim."

She gave an example.

"We had our officers passing by the robbery suspect,  [who]  just held up the bank at gunpoint, because the dispatcher was locked into a ProQA system that was mandating that they ask questions in an order, and they hadn't gotten to the suspect page  [yet] ."

In an email to staff Thursday, Minneapolis City Coordinator Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde announced they would stop using ProQA. 

"You all know it is not a decision I take lightly, but given all I have heard from you - both pros and cons - and the amount of financial resources that we would require to continue forward with a program that ultimately cannot overcome its lack of integration issues, it makes even less fiscal sense to continue with this program," wrote Rivera-Vandermyde in the email. 

It's a move being applauded by the city's police union, which says the system relayed call information to officers in a hard to understand format. 

"So, you almost needed a two-officer squad all the time, so one could decipher  [it] ," said Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, " [ProQA]  was detrimental to our officers and the citizens they serve. It needed to go."

Sampson-Spande is glad it's going away, too. 

"It's a victory," she said, "It's a victory for everyone that uses Minneapolis 911."

The city's Director of Emergency Communications wasn't available for an interview Friday.

A city spokesperson said it's not known yet when they'll transition from using the ProQA system to a new one. 

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