HPD now has access to county’s ‘network’ system

Joins Sheriff’s Office and Franklin Police Departments

The Macon County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement with the Highlands Police Department this month to bring Highlands Law Enforcement on board with the countywide emergency communication system. 

Highlands Police Chief Bill Harrell made the request to commissioners this month to allow Highlands Police Department access to the county’s Virtual Private Network (VPN) for criminal justice information purposes.

The interlocal agreement, which was approved contingent upon some language changes from the county attorney, will bring Highlands on board the system already utilized by the Franklin Police Department and Macon County Sheriff’s Office. 

“It will help with inter-local communications between all Macon County law enforcement departments and streamline much needed intelligence on potential and unknown offenders at the time of an officers traffic stop and/or investigation toward a person of interest,” said Highlands Police Chief Bill Harrell. “Officers will also be able to reduce some of the time and labor for dispatchers by entering their own notes on a traffic stop and/or a call for service incident, rather than doubling up on relaying information to a dispatcher who will type the same information in the CAD that an officer can do on site. None of the money for this resource is additional taxpayers’ money, it was acquired through a Governors Crime Commission grant I applied for and was awarded.”

Macon County Emergency Service Coordinator Warren Cabe said that the agreement is the same as the one the county has with Franklin Police Department.

“We have an identical agreement in place with the Town of Franklin that allows them to have a mobile version of CAD in their cars which increases the effectiveness and efficiency of data exchange,” said Cabe. “The officer can look directly at calls and some even add narratives, etc. to the calls as they complete them. The agreement allows the software they use to pass through our VPN into our server to tap into the CAD data.”

County Manager Derek Roland said the agreement was unanimously approved by the board of commissioners because it would improve effectiveness and efficiencies within the departments. 

In addition to bringing Highlands on board the county’s CAD system, commissioners also approved an agreement to allow Macon County to use the Satulah Radio Communications site owned by the town of Highlands. 

“The Satulah Mountain communications site is an important part of our communications hub serving Highlands and part of the Scaly Mountain areas,” said Cabe. “It is a joint venture between Highlands and Macon County and has been for many years but was up for renewal. Highlands owns the land, Macon owns the building and tower, and we both have equipment there. We clarified some roles and rights of each party as to the existing agreement and added a statement such that if we ever modify the tower that we add/reserve a 10-ft. tower section for the Town to place wireless internet equipment on.”

By Brittney Lofthouse

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