Technology upgrade helps Signal Mountain Police Department

SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, Tenn. (WDEF) — A technology upgrade is helping one police department in the Tennessee Valley succeed.

Signal Mountain Police officers used to rely on radios.

“The mountain is one of those situations where you lose radio contact or cellphone service,” said Officer Troy Kennedy, with the Signal Mountain Police Department.

They now first department in Tennessee to use FirstNet, built with AT&T. It’s a system Officer Kennedy says gives reliable network coverage when he needs to communicate in emergencies.

“So the FirstNet product, which is the foundation for everything that we are doing in our cars is the supportive, it is in laments terms the cellphone service for law enforcement,” Officer Kennedy said.

In 2012 a law was passed that created the First Responder Network Authority.

“One thing that public safety has fought for about two decades now and specifically since 911 was having a nationwide broadband network that would interoperate with all agencies across the agency. And that is what FirstNet provides,” said Ehrin Ehlert, field operations director for the First Responder Network Authority.

With this technology they can use this map to see where other officers are located. Before they had to go back to the department to file reports, but now they don’t have to do that, they can do everything in this car.

Officer Kennedy says the network helps when they are in a crowded area with lots of people with cell phones.

“For instance a couple of years ago, there was a situation downtown. The public was there, their cellphones, everyone’s cellphones kind of bundled up. Law enforcement, if they had this service, they would be able to get right through,” Officer Kennedy said.

Overall they’ve noticed change.

“What we discovered was that our service has a redundancy built into it and our service also provides quality across the mountain,” Officer Kennedy said.

FirstNet serves around one thousand public safety agencies across the country.

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