Public Safety Veterans Spotlight Technology’s Impact
Posted February 28, 2013
One of the many ways communications technology is changing virtually all aspects of our lives is in how we are kept safe. As Connected Nation’s focus this month has shown, broadband and related technologies are leading to profound changes in the public safety sector.
Warren County, Ky., home of Connected Nation, has two veteran public safety officials who have seen the transformation first-hand.
Ronnie Pearson is director of the Warren County Emergency Management Office, and remembers in his more than 30 years in public safety the days of voice paging and even the “call-down tree,” where officials would have to place calls to responders, who would then call other responders over land-line phones.
The speed of today’s communications technology has been a dramatic improvement.
“It’s all about seconds in emergency response,” Pearson said. “Decision-making in emergencies happens in seconds.”
Pearson said his department is continuously looking for ways to stay in touch with Warren’s 100,000-plus residents, and even how to use technology to notify drivers of safety issues on the busy I-65 corridor that bisects the county.
Technology has also helped data gathering for those in public safety.
“Today, lots of grants are based on data – technology has streamlined the process to gather that data,” Pearson said.
The federal effort through FirstNet (see our policy briefs here) to promote communication among public safety agencies is a promising development, Pearson said.
“The ability to communicate (with other agencies) prior to arrival would be a huge benefit,” he said.
Warren County Sheriff Jerry “Peanuts” Gaines has served as sheriff for 7 terms starting in 1977.
Gaines also remembers the days of paper records and wanted posters; a far cry from today’s reality where arrests are often made based on tips that come through the department’s website.
Gaines also remembers the cumbersome communication between agencies, where deputies had to rely on the city of Bowling Green’s radio system to communicate remotely.
“We were pretty well isolated,” Gaines said. Continuing efforts to improve interagency communications “will definitely help law enforcemen