PPDS v7.0 Update Released

Audrey Fraizer

Audrey Fraizer

CDE Police

*To take the corresponding CDE quiz, visit the College of Emergency Dispatch.*

Like the ancient Greeks turning over every stone to find a treasure hidden by a general defeated in battle, few protocols were left unturned in the Oct. 11, 2022, Police Priority Dispatch System™ (PPDS®) v7.0 release.

“We reviewed over 200 Proposals for Change, and [we] incorporated most into this version,” said Dave Warner, Police Protocol, Academics, and Standards Committee chair. “Agencies wanted a greater range of control over what information and how much of it is sent to CAD from ProQA®, so a big part in this newest version does just that.”

Of the 36 Chief Complaints in PPDS v7.0, three protocols remain essentially the same, excluding multi-protocol changes (such as the new Suffix E “EMS needed” added to 21 protocols). The protocols without changes specific to them are Protocol 128: Supplemental, Protocol 134:Unknown (3rd Party), and Protocol 136:Active Assailant (Shooter).

Big picture of PPDS v7.0 

Greater efficiency in PPDS v7.0 is accomplished through new Determinant Codes to broaden the scene description in relation to officer safety. The remaining Determinant Codes are renumbered and/or adjusted for clarification. The updated version also continues to highlight alternative call pathways that give  EPDs the ability to route non-urgent or low-priority events to non-traditional responses or special referrals while in ProQA.

Several Post-Dispatch Instructions were modified to be Jurisdictionally Approved Instructions (JAIs). Much like the Jurisdictionally Approved Questions (JAQs),  these new JAIs can be enabled or disabled in Police ProQA Admin by selecting the protocol number and then clicking on the box next to each instruction. All JAIs  are enabled by default and appear in purple font.

For example, in Protocol 119: Harassment/Stalking/Threat, there are six JAIs:
• Make a list of all dates, times, and details of previous incidents.
• (Phone) Do not delete your phone’s call log history, caller ID, or recorded messages.
• (Electronic) Do not delete any text messages/emails.
• (Written matter) Save the document.
• (Court order) Have all paperwork available for the responding officers.
• (Social media) Take a screenshot or photo of the post, if possible. Do not engage the sender or do anything to draw more attention to it.

PPDS v7.0 includes one new protocol, two new suffixes, and a global definition that has been deleted from individual protocols and moved to Case Entry. 

The new Protocol P: Person Trapped in Vehicle Trunk provides callers with instructions to help someone who is trapped in the trunk of a vehicle. DLS access is provided on Protocols 101 and 125.

Other updates include two new global suffixes: a new E suffix that allows CAD notification that EMS is needed and a new X suffix that allows CAD notification that a weapon is involved and EMS is needed. Other new suffixes affect the individual protocols, such as three suffixes added to Protocol 106: Assault/Sexual  Assault/Shooting/Stabbing. Due to global application, the definitions for “urgent” and "non-urgent" were removed from individual protocols and transferred to Case Entry.

While specific changes are found on 33 protocols, the following protocols are common complaints that have been revised to better clarify the incident reported and expand their application: Protocol 105: Animal; Protocol 106:Assault/Sexual Assault/Shooting/Stabbing; Protocol 121: Mental Disorder (Behavioral Problems);  Protocol 123:Missing/Runaway/Found Person; and Protocol 135: Weapons/Firearms. 

Protocol 105: Animal
PPDS and the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS®) both include protocols involving animals and animal attacks. While MPDS Protocol 3: Animal Bites/Attacks addresses animal bites ranging from non-life-threatening incidents to vicious attacks that can prove fatal, PPDS Protocol 105: Animal focuses on incidents endangering animals or endangering or disrupting the welfare of the caller. These are incidents that require police attention. If ATTACK is chosen and a caller answers “Yes” to the Key Question “Does anyone need medical attention?”, the EPD is directed to notify EMS.

“Animal NEGLECT” provides an interrogation sequence and Determinant Code for calls that don’t meet the “Animal CRUELTY” definition. A Key Question sequence for animal NEGLECT applies to the animal’s welfare as well as the welfare of the caller or bystander. These questions include whether the  incident involves a dangerous animal, whether the animal is confined, the animal’s description, whether it is injured, and identification of the animal’s owner (when possible).

Protocol 106: Assault/Sexual Assault/Shooting/Stabbing
The dynamics of a drive-by shooting are a major revision in Protocol 106, including the addition of the definition: “An incident where a person, building, or vehicle  is shot at from an occupied moving vehicle that has left or is leaving.” This definition complements the description of drive-by shootings in a problem-focused guide for law enforcement,1 and the Protocol itself aids in collecting evaluative research on a type of incident that lacks national data through three new Determinant  Codes, a new Sub-Chief Complaint, and a new Key Question sequence. The new Key Question “How many shots were fired?” is a JAQ.

The SEXUAL ASSAULT definition is now “An assault or attempted assault of a sexual nature that involves unwanted touching, groping, or fondling of another, without that person’s consent. It may occur over or under the clothing.” To differentiate between SEXUAL VIOLENCE and SEXUAL ASSAULT, a definition  for SEXUAL VIOLENCE was also added: “The act of engaging in sexual activities with another, without that person’s consent. It may involve invasive sexual  intercourse or acts of groping or fondling, accompanied by violent physical force or causing bodily harm.”

Three new suffixes have been added: Suffix U “Unknown if injuries (SHOOTING codes),” Suffix C “Strangled or choked,” and Suffix H “Hospital (healthcare facility) reporting.”

A new PDI for hospitals reporting incidents has been added: “(Hospital reporting) An officer will be dispatched as soon as possible. Call us back if anything  changes or you have any further information.”

Protocol 121: Mental Disorder (Behavioral Problems)
Revisions to Protocol 121: Mental Disorder (Behavioral Problems) include a new definition for Mental disorder, a modified Axiom, the addition of three JAQs, and a new Key Question. 

Mental disorder is now defined as “Any incident involving an individual who appears to lack essential reasoning faculties or exhibits bizarre behavior, possibly  related to mental health issues.” It replaces the former definition “An incident involving an individual who appears to lack essential reasoning faculties or exhibits  bizarre, possibly mentally related behavior.” The change more accurately describes the behavior as possibly related to mental health issues.

Related to the revision of the mental disorder definition, Axiom 1 has been modified from “The behavior of mentally unstable people may often be unpredictable” to “The behavior of persons with mental disorders may often be unpredictable.”

Three new Jurisdictionally Approved Key Questions were added for 2nd and 3rd Party callers to provide local decision-making for the type of information gathered. They are: “(Known person) Is s/he receiving mental health care?”, “What is her/his diagnosis?”, and “I need to get the name and number of her/his doctor.”

The new Key Question for 2nd and 3rd Party callers “Has s/he been using alcohol or drugs today?” gives better information for responders. This Key Question is added just before the final Key Question “(Appropriate) Does anyone need medical attention?”.

Protocol 121 complements the three-digit code for callers who are dealing with a mental health crisis. The 988 number replaces the 10-digit number currently used to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and connects people to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline instead.

Protocol 123: Missing/Runaway/Found Person
PPDS v7.0 adds JAQs to determine if the missing child has been identified as within the autism spectrum and if there are any hazardous locations near where the child went missing (such as retention ponds). This set of questions conforms to a pilot training program for emergency telecommunicators by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse (MEPIC).

The update also revises the wording of Key Questions. The order of questioning now mirrors the process of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), including NCMEC’s recent release of an updated policy and procedures guide specific to law enforcement. For example, to support changes to the current NCMEC standards, the Key Question “Did s/he take any personal items (clothing, medications) with her/him?” has been modified to “Did s/he take any personal items (clothing, medications, backpack, toy) with her/him?”.

The Pre-Question Qualifier “(Appropriate)” has been added to the Key Question “Do you think s/he is a RUNAWAY?” and the answer choice “Not appropriate” is  now available so that age or circumstance does not preclude this as an appropriate question.

The Suffix K “Trackable technology” will be added to Determinant Codes when an affirmative answer is given to the Key Question “Does s/he have any trackable technology like a cell phone, tablet, or GPS with her/him?” to accommodate alternative responses. Two more new suffixes specific to this protocol are Suffix A  “Autism” and Suffix B “Both Autism and Trackable technology.”

Protocol 135: Weapons/Firearms
New Key Questions, definitions, and rules reflect data available through the IAED Data Center. For example, the definition added to PPDS v7.0 for the word  “WEAPON” goes beyond traditional weapons to the broader context. While a gun is generally the weapon of choice (as described by more than 50% of callers, according to the center’s statistical tally), other weapons high on the list include clubs, explosives, knives, and—as defined—“Any item made, adapted, or intended to be used for incapacitation or injuring a person.”

Several new Key Question sequences take into consideration the caller’s assessment of a threat in “heard only” cases. These sequences are “SHOTS FIRED  (heard only),” “SHOTS FIRED (suspect seen),” “WEAPON INCIDENT,” “Carrying concealed WEAPON,” “Open carry of WEAPON,” and “Found/Surrendered WEAPON.” The Key Question “Are you or anyone else in danger right now?” in the “SHOTS FIRED (heard only)” sequence has been removed.

The definition of "WEAPON INCIDENT” precludes an actual event involving harm. It is now defined as “An incident involving a weapon where no other crime or  action has taken place and the weapon itself is the most critical event.” This revision supports new Determinant Codes and provides clarity to when “WEAPON  INCIDENT” should be selected.

The Data Center also shows the incidents in which weapons are most frequently used. They are, in descending order, domestic disturbance/violence, disturbance/nuisance, harassment/stalking, suspicious/wanted person, suicidal person/attempted suicide, and assault/sexual assault.

New Rule 3, “Intentionally causing damage by discharging firearms should be handled on Protocol 111,” clarifies where these incidents should be handled. 

New Rule 4, “SHOTS FIRED at people, potentially occupied vehicles, or potentially occupied structures should be handled on Protocol 106,” clarifies where these incidents should be handled.

New Rule 5, “A found/surrendered WEAPON incident that presents a heightened public safety concern due to time, location, or other circumstances should be  coded as WEAPON INCIDENT,” ensures EPDs do not under-code an event given the time or location circumstances.

Across the protocol board
Like all IAED protocol systems, PPDS directs emergency dispatchers through appropriate interrogation of callers and then quickly determines the correct response based on individual agencies’ needs and resources. Once those tasks are done, ProQA prompts emergency dispatchers to provide Post-Dispatch and Pre-Arrival  Instructions and meet other customer service needs.

The IAED’s Council of Standards, which is made up of law enforcement and police dispatching experts, determines protocols, questions, instructions, and sequencing based on user feedback from millions of police events processed through ProQA software each year. ProQA PPDS v7.0 represents the 10th revision since the Police Protocol’s original release in 2001.

1. Dedel K. “Drive-By Shootings.” U.S. Department of Justice/Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. 2007; March. cops.usdoj.gov/ric/Publications/copsp116-pub.pdf (accessed Oct. 17, 2022).