Representatives of the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office, Natchitoches Parish Office of Homeland Security, City of Natchitoches Police Department, City of Natchitoches Fire Department and Natchitoches Parish 9-1-1 met on Sept. 26 with Lindsay Sclafini, and Kerri Brantley, FirstNet Outreach Consultants for AT&T’s Public Sector Solutions, to discuss current and future cellular telephone coverage in Natchitoches Parish. Parish-wide cellular coverage is especially critical in preparation for the build-out of the long awaited FirstNet Public Safety Broadband Network. Underscoring the significance of this meeting is the action by Governor John Bell Edwards on Sept. 27 announcing that the State of Louisiana would become the 24th state to approve this resource for first responders and extend an “opt in” notice to FirstNet, codifying the State’s intentions to participate in the network.
The Natchitoches Parish Public Safety delegation is well-positioned to provide a high degree of operational knowledge regarding areas within the parish where cellular coverage is lacking and make recommendations regarding the proposed placement of up to four new and/or additional cellular transmitter sites. The group has provided additional coverage data to FirstNet. The public safety-first responders feel that the meeting was a proactive measure, which can help to ensure that cellular telephone coverage is adequate in the parish to support the critical mission of the FirstNet public safety network.