New technology keeping deputies safer using cellular connection

HILLSDALE, Mich. - In just the blink of an eye a police officer can be put into a life or death situation and a radio is typically their only way of communication.

The Hillsdale County Sheriff's Department has recently given its deputies special smart phones and watches as a way to stay connected.

The phones and watches are part of "First Net" which gives the devices priority when the network is congested. It’s all to help send information, pictures and a GPS location much more quickly in a time of crisis.

“With a push of the button of this watch, our staff can immediately contact 911, leave an open line for 911 if they're fighting or struggling with somebody,” said Hillsdale County Sheriff Deputy Tim Parker. “911 can hear everything that is going on unlike having a phone and having to hold it up.”

John Wilmer has been a Hillsdale County Sheriff Deputy for more than two decades. He's feeling safer on patrol only being armed with a new smart phone and watch for a couple days.

“Usually we have our chest mics and we are attempting to communicate, it's broken, it’s hard, sometimes you lose your gear during a struggle and lose the ability to even radio for help,” said Wilmer.

The Hillsdale County Sheriff's Department got a look Friday at a new bulletproof vest insert.

If an officer's wounded it'll immediately notify dispatch and the department of the officer's name, even blood type.

“The message went out immediately to 911 and it also pinpointed a location where that officer was so on a map someone could send help for that officer who is down,” said Parker.

An investment not just in officers, but in the community they've sworn to serve and protect.

“If an officer has been assaulted in this manner to the point where they would potentially try to take their lives, that individual is going to pose a threat to our community,” said Parker. “The quicker we can get somebody there to help the officer and apprehend that individual, then we save our community.”

Police departments from across the state of Michigan, even Ohio were in Hillsdale Friday for the demonstration of the vest insert.

Many Michigan police departments already use “First Net” technology.