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Pontiac — Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said Monday his department will be the first in Michigan and one of the first in the nation to equip officers with FirstNet, a communications tool that can save lives.

Bouchard said the telecommunications program will allow first responders, such as police and firefighters, to be able to access phone service that potentially can be compromised due to too many phone users utilizing devices at the same time —such as at a major event.

“This is another tool for public safety and important to have in place,” said Bouchard in a statement. “As technology continues to change at a fast pace, we need a system which can communicate over different platforms and handle various forms of communication.

“We now have a platform to get rich data and critical information out to our boots on the ground, and we are proud to be the first agency in Michigan to launch these improvements.”

According to a news release from the sheriff’s office, with FirstNet, Oakland County law enforcement will no longer have to compete with commercial users for bandwidth when an emergency happens.

Instead, Oakland County police can use the power of priority and preemption — two mission-critical features that FirstNet enables — to confidently communicate and coordinate whenever they need to.

Bouchard said FirstNet — which has been in development since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and demonstrates how police and fire were often unable to communicate with one another — will allow law enforcement and the public sector to “keep pace with the private sector.”

The service is also expected to reduce current telephone service charges for the county by about 20 percent, Bouchard said.

“FirstNet is the exclusive communications platform built with AT&T for public safety, inspired by public safety — there is no substitution for this network that they fought for,” First Responder Network Authority CEO Mike Poth said in a statement. “We look forward to supporting the Oakland County public safety community’s use of FirstNet, making sure it delivers what they need when they need it.”

Additionally, FirstNet will help make advanced communications tools — like smartphones, apps and connected devices — more useful, valuable and available to Oakland County’s first responders.

“FirstNet will help first responders in Oakland County and across the country perform at the highest levels,” said Roger Blake, regional vice president of AT&T Public Sector. “We’re honored to play a part in that transformation and applaud the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office for helping to lead the way.”

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319

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