State Rep. Kevin Payne

State Rep. Kevin Payne (R-21), shown discussing business issues in Peoria, says his No. 1 priority is to launch technology that would enable dispatchers and first responders to watch live video of school shootings and other emergencies in large public places.

Imagine if there was an “active shooter” call at a school, and the 911 dispatcher on the line could, at a flip of a switch, show responding police officers real-time footage from inside classrooms.

This technology shows firefighters live video of fires blazing in malls or commercial buildings, prior to arriving on scene.

These are the things State Rep. Kevin Payne (R-21) says will be possible if he can push a bill through state legislature. 

“It’s my number one priority,” said Payne, an Arizona House of Representatives Public Safety Committee chairman.

Payne’s district covers parts of Peoria, Glendale, El Mirage, Youngtown, Surprise and Sun City, which as a chair member, he said he is concerned about state policing.

He expressed his concerns about the Buckeye Police Department and the recently fired Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper, who resides in Buckeye.

“The Buckeye Police (Department), about a year ago they were caught for misleading numbers,” Payne said, referencing a February investigation indicating Buckeye Police falsified crime statistics. 

“I don’t know how widespread it is.”

He is also disturbed by the Tremaine Jackson case, the former DPS trooper accused of two dozen sexual assault charges and misconduct.

“It’s not good. I don’t like it when officers abuse their positions,” Payne said. “I do think there’s a small minority that makes departments look bad.

“I don’t know what to do about it,” he said. “I wish I had all the answers.”

He is confident in the desired technology aimed at making school shooting responses more efficient. 

Payne wants a live-streaming video system available to dispatchers and police departments throughout the state.

“Once the software is in place, dispatchers will look at video, they’ll put up split screens with live video and start assigning officers to certain teams. Only officers being asked to respond would get this data,” Payne said last Wednesday.

His primary focus for a rollout would be to link school cameras by a software system to dispatchers.

However, he said the system could also be extremely effective for large public spaces, such as malls, stadiums and other commercial buildings.

“It would be very helpful in a fire, for the firefighters on the way to figure out, ‘How are we going to set up a response?’” Payne said.

Payne’s idea is to set up the program for free for every school in the state for three years. After the first three years, schools would be required to pay $1,200 per year to stay in the system.

Payne said he does not have a bill written yet, but an ad hoc committee is scheduled to meet on Oct 30, to discuss the system.

“The technology is here,” Payne said.

And, he stressed, the need is great.

“If you remember the shooting in Florida a year-and-a-half ago at a school, where the school resource officer would not go into the building,” Payne said, referring to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 students were killed and 17 others injured.

“If he had a system like what I’m talking about, where he would have had live video and blueprints would have been available more lives may have been saved.”

In such a situation where someone has taken over a school or other public place, “Officers might not be on the scene yet, but they’ll already know what door to go to,” Payne said.

Although he has not yet written a bill, he does not expect it to take long - especially since he sponsored a similar one last year he can use as a boilerplate.

In February, Payne introduced House Bill 2565, “interoperable communication system.”

The bill’s text:

“The sum of $9.5 million is appropriated from the state general fund in fiscal year 2019-2020 to the department of public safety to procure an interoperable communication system that will enhance school safety and facilitate emergency response activities in this state. The interoperable communication system must do all of the following:

1. Facilitate interoperable multimedia communications, including two-way radio, landline and mobile telephony, intercom, public address, text messaging, file sharing and real‑time, full‑motion video sharing.

2. Allow each participating entity to maintain discretionary, real‑time control of all communications assets owned or operated by the entity.

3.  Use broadband internet connectivity in a network-agnostic manner via dedicated or virtual connections.

4.  Encrypt all media communications …”

Payne withdrew the bill when he perceived a lack of support.

He said he will try again with another version in January: “I’ll have a bill before session starts.

“It will be based on the output of this ad hoc committee we are doing now.”

Payne said several software vendors are able to link school and other cameras to emergency dispatchers and responders.

“To me, it’s a wonderful system,” Payne said.