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Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Countson Nextel Direct Connect

Sheriff’s Office Bridges Public Safety Communication Gaps with Nextel Dispatch Integration

The Sheriff’s Office in TN is responsible for securing and ensuring the safety of citizens within the 543 square-mile county. The terrain is hilly and doesn’t lend itself to wide area coverage without multiple tower sites. In the event of a disaster, personnel from other jurisdictions—federal, state and local agencies—enter the area to assist, further challenging the existing communications infrastructure.

The Sheriff’s Office was having difficulty finding a local carrier that could provide reliable, secure and interoperable communications across the region and with other law enforcement agencies. Montgomery County deputies needed a solution they could count on for communications no matter what kind of disaster strikes or how many cell towers go down, and one that could ensure interoperability between multiple agencies. The existing land mobile radios (LMRs) the department used lacked the interoperability and coverage required to enable various first-responders and emergency management agencies to work together effectively.

Sprint and Montgomery Country began by deploying the Nextel National Network, a mobile communications solution, to provide the Sheriff’s Office with the benefits of both a cellular phone and a trunked radio system. The solution worked with the existing LMR system, resulting in network coverage for nearly 100 percent of the county. All patrol officers were issued Nextel handsets and mobile data terminals (MDTs). Eventually officers in neighboring counties will receive similar equipment. In addition, the Sheriff’s Office outfitted highly mobile officers, including some criminal investigators and special operations personnel, with BlackBerry devices to access state and local databases.

The department then implemented Nextel Dispatch Integration to integrate the handsets with the existing dispatch console, allowing dispatchers to receive, transmit and record dispatch communication from other systems using any frequency or device. Local 911 emergency dispatch operations can reach coast-to-coast while incorporating less critical communications, such as logistics and public works. The Nextel solution also allows the department to ensure communications are secured from probing scanners and media. And the Sheriff’s Office has the flexibility to prioritize frequencies in an emergency, so that emergency responders can use their Direct Connect even when the public switched telephone networks (PSTN) are overloaded.

The Sheriff’s Office has also integrated the Nextel solution with Incident Commanders’ Radio Interface (ICRI) from Communications-Applied Technology, for cross-band, cross-platform coverage. Because any handset, cell phone, landline or mobile radio can plug into the ICRI units quickly, other emergency responders can plug their solutions into the system and Direct Connect and Group calls can be easily patched into local and regional talk groups.

Bottom Line
In a little more than three years, Montgomery County law enforcement and other first responders went from a traditional, localized conventional LMR system to an enhanced trunked that is redundant, secure, and can interoperate with almost all other radio systems. As a result, the Sheriff’s Office can ensure seamless communications from low band to VHF high band to conventional UHF trunking to 800 MHz systems.

Nextel Dispatch Integration gives public safety officials tools to respond effectively to emergency situations while at the same time staying within budget. By adding Nextel solutions to enhance Montgomery County’s communications system instead of replacing it, the department gets unrivaled and cost-effective interoperable communication abilities.

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