Local Texas law enforcement agencies sign on to FirstNet

The decision was an easy one, said Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk, because the office has already seen benefits from FirstNet, a nationwide public-safety broadband network that the First Responder Network Authority and AT&T are working to build.

 

On Jan. 25, the Brazos County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office became the second public-safety agency to subscribe to FirstNet, following on a move by the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP), which made its announcement on Jan. 24.

FirstNet Photo

The decision was an easy one, said Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk, because the office has already seen benefits from FirstNet, a nationwide public-safety broadband network that the First Responder Network Authority and AT&T are working to build. The office has been operational for two years on a network test node in Harris County, which is about 90 miles northwest of Brazos and one of FirstNet’s five Early Builder projects.

“We have 61 patrol units that are equipped in a manner that they do all their work off the FirstNet system,” Kirk said. “All the data for connecting to dispatch, all the tablets, the tough tablets in all the patrol cars, work off that system,” he said. “Certainly one of the best parts of being on that system is the connectivity.”

All the units have mobile video cameras that can livestream to other users. “I can sit in my office or in the command center and pull up any one of those cameras and livestream, which is incredible technology for us,” Kirk said.

For example, as deputies handled a swift-water rescue after flooding followed a tornado, the command center team was able to watch what was happening. Similarly, during an armed standoff, officers parked four cars around the house and turned on their mobile cameras so they could livestream video to the command center, which was monitoring “the tactical development of that without having to get reports back from the field via phone or radio,” Kirk said.

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