Oglala Sioux Police Department Becomes First Tribal Public Safety Agency to Implement FirstNet Technology
New Communications Technology Equips Officers with Always-On Connection
PINE RIDGE, S.D., June 5, 2018 — The Oglala Sioux Police Department, which sits on one of the largest land-based tribal reservations in the U.S., has become the first tribal community in the United States to implement FirstNet. The technology gives the police department greater ability to focus on our daily patrols and law enforcement prevention activities.
FirstNet is the country’s first nationwide public safety broadband network dedicated to first responders – available when and where we need it. Being built with AT&T, in public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), it gives our communications capabilities a major boost, providing a reliable, highly secure and “always-on” connection.
Prior to FirstNet, the Oglala Sioux Police Department had limited connectivity within our police vehicles. Our officers were dependent on local police substations in each town to manage reporting and other administrative tasks. This would take them away from patrolling duties. FirstNet gives us the ability to stay on the road and maintain critical police work from behind the wheel.
“We’re very proud to lead U.S. tribal lands as a FirstNet early adopter. We have firsthand experience regarding the huge void that a lack of communication can mean during critical incidents. In 1999, a tornado hit the Oglala community. Many homes were destroyed, families were displaced, and there was a total lack of communications among emergency personnel due to the severe damage,” said Robert Ecoffey, Oglala Sioux Chief of Police. “Moving to FirstNet enhances our ability to respond to the serious needs across the reservation for the protection of life and property on behalf of tribal members and the public.”
Oglala’s decision to move to FirstNet was based on three key areas:
Groundbreaking Access – FirstNet is the only platform that gives first responders priority and preemption. This means our officers will have access to the connection we need, even during times of congestion. This will help us keep ourselves and those we serve safe and secure. We look forward to taking advantage of additional mission-critical capabilities as the technology advances.
Immediate Innovation – FirstNet will enable us to use data in new ways through innovative devices and apps. FirstNet features a public safety-focused applications ecosystem, putting innovative tools at our fingertips. The more information and capabilities we have access to, the smarter and faster we can operate.
Increased Coverage – As South Dakota’s FirstNet build gets underway, Oglala will have access to increased coverage and capacity. Low population density across the reservation and its terrain have resulted in limited wireless broadband communications in parts of the reservation, making communication among tribal law enforcement and other first responders a challenge. Because of FirstNet, the expanded coverage and capacity will help give police officers and dispatch the ability to maintain contact to support emergencies.
“This is a very exciting time for our officers and the Oglala Sioux community,” Chief Ecoffey added. “Our officers are thrilled to use the technology. It helps them maintain constant communications between officers, dispatch and other emergency responders. We’re able to do necessary work in our cars and stay on patrol to serve the public more effectively.”
We worked with the FirstNet Authority to outline our public safety communications needs. The FirstNet Authority consults directly with tribal government officials and ensures full compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The agency’s tribal consultation activities help influence network deployment and maintenance for the benefit of our tribal police officers and all tribal public safety entities across the U.S.
“Working together, we were able to engage multiple times with all the tribes across the state,” said Mike Waldner, FirstNet Program Manager for South Dakota. “We have a long relationship working with these tribal areas on public safety communications. The addition of FirstNet is another communications tool we can all use to keep our citizens in South Dakota safe.”
“For over 2 years, our tribal engagement team has worked alongside state officials to build relationships within Tribal Nations that help ensure FirstNet is deployed inclusive of the needs of tribal communities,” said FirstNet Authority CEO Mike Poth. “We are pleased to see Oglala Sioux Police Department move quickly to become early adopters and look forward to supporting their use of FirstNet, making sure it delivers what they need to protect their communities.”
“It’s our mission to give first responders the cutting-edge tools they need to keep themselves and those they serve out of harm’s way,” said Cheryl Riley, president, AT&T South Dakota. “FirstNet will help first responders in Oglala perform at the highest levels. And we’re honored to play a part in that transformation.”
Since the Oglala Sioux Police Department first subscribed to FirstNet, several other tribal public safety agencies in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest have also subscribed to FirstNet.
To learn more about the Oglala Sioux Police Department, go to www.ostdps.org/police. For details on FirstNet, check out FirstNet.com. And to learn about subscribing to FirstNet, contact Carrie Johnson at 605-231-3915 or firstname.lastname@example.org.