I’m a Law Enforcement First Responder. Why do I need FirstNet?

By Karl Wilmes, Chief (ret)

I remember as a newly promoted Sergeant meeting with my shift of officers outside in the parking lot of a bar fight. The incident was all but over, and one of the officers called dispatch on the radio for some information on a suspect we were arresting. The portable radio did not work, and Officer Mike threw the radio across the parking lot and announced to the world, “this piece of s..t” never works”.  I clearly remember the radio breaking into pieces as it splashed against the asphalt.  I can remember thinking to myself how I was going to explain this to the Chief in the morning and thinking those brand new Sergeant stripes on my shirt were probably gone.  

That was the golden ages of law enforcement, the eighties. Today, we all have smart phones. No different than in the dark ages of just a portable radio, when you are on the scene of an incident, or simply need to call home you want your phone to work.  Who wants to hear, “can you hear me now”, in a snowstorm at 3:00 A.M. in the morning.

Our lives are now dependent on our smartphone.  We all need the phone, the apps, and the video to work. The smartphone only works when there is a connection. That is why you need FirstNet. FirstNet and its capabilities can help protect you and enhance your ability to police and get the information you need and want through a reliable connection.  Here is why FirstNet is important to you.  

  • FirstNet is a nationwide communications platform only for first responders. As a FirstNet subscriber you never compete with commercial traffic and there is never any throttling.
  • FirstNet gives you a dedicated network for priority and preemption just for your use.
  • FirstNet provides a separate, dedicated, and highly secure network built for public safety’s sensitive communications.
  • FirstNet is continually enhancing and increasing coverage and capacity, enabling first responders to better connect with one another.
  • FirstNet can help enhance officer safety with the latest technology to provide situational awareness to solve complex issues in real time.
  • FirstNet keeps officers connected both on and off duty. That means staying connected whether it is your partner on duty or keeping up with friends and family off duty.
  • FirstNet supports first responders with subscription dollars returned to the FirstNet Authority for re-investment and technology upgrades for the FirstNet ecosystem.   
  • FirstNet supports first responders with great pricing on devices and data plans.

Sometimes in life change feels right.  FirstNet is not a “best effort” network. FirstNet is a network dedicated to first responders. Give FirstNet a try.

Karl W. Wilmes served as the Chief of Police for the City of Federal Heights, Colorado from January 2015 until his retirement in January 2018. During his career in law enforcement, while leading three agencies, he developed a culture of police and community involvement and organizational accountability.

Prior to his appointment as Chief of Police, at the City of Federal Heights, Karl served as the Homeland Security Director for Colorado (OPSFS) and Deputy Director for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Serving as Deputy Director for the CBI, Karl was responsible to provide direction and management oversight for the CBI business units and all state criminal justice information systems.

Karl continues to remain active in law enforcement advising clients on public safety wireless communication, CJIS (data sharing), biometrics, strategic planning, investigations, and training. Professionally, Karl is a member of numerous organizations.

He serves on the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) national CJIS committee. He remains an active member at IACP and is a member of the Police Executive Research Forum. During his career he participated on numerous national and statewide criminal justice boards. Locally, he is a past president of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police and currently a member.

Karl has a Master’s degree in Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. He is a graduate of the Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Senior Executives in State and Local Government leadership program, the 187th session of the FBI National Academy and Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this company or any company with whom the author may be associated.


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