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Connecting Green Bay Law Enforcement On and Off the Field

January 14, 2021

The Green Bay Police Department (GBPD) is the main law enforcement agency for the Green Bay Packers professional football games. Although Green Bay is a city of 105,000 people, nearly 80,000 fans show up to the stadium on gamedays during normal times. At games with large crowds, officers have struggled using commercial networks to communicate.

“Prior to FirstNet, we couldn’t get text messages to our officers,” said Paul Ebel, Green Bay Police’s Investigative Commander who oversees special events, including all home Packers games. “The FirstNet devices totally outperform what we had.”

The agency first tested FirstNet during the 2018 season. They discovered that, even during big plays when network congestion was highest, FirstNet gave them faster speeds, better data exchanges, and clearer calls. Because of FirstNet’s priority and preemption, officers could communicate amid a stadium full of fans livestreaming, texting, and posting on social media. This helped the Green Bay Police Department decide that FirstNet was worth the investment.

Making the switch to FirstNet

“The main reason we switched to FirstNet was the ability to communicate with our officers in the field during the game,” said Commander Ebel.

In 2019, the Department issued 185 FirstNet devices to staff. With FirstNet in hand, officers were able to easily communicate at games and stay informed through integrated technology. For example, FirstNet’s reliable broadband connection allowed the department to expand and better utilize technologies during games. Now, officers document incidents within the stadium using digital forms on their cellphones rather than traditional paper forms. This has greatly simplified the task for officers, who can now capture more detailed information about the incident and the cause of the situation. It also makes the information immediately accessible to the stadium control room, dispatch, and other officers, keeping everyone on the same page.

With FirstNet, officers staffing the game also have access to threat assessments, weather forecasts, operational plans from different jurisdictions, and current incident action plans. Using FirstNet and a situational dashboard, Green Bay police can see calls for service, active calls, medical transports, and fan conduct incidents.

Beyond the stadium

FirstNet has made a difference for Green Bay police outside the stadium as well. All squad cars have FirstNet modems, every officer carries a FirstNet smartphone, and GBPD detectives use FirstNet tablet computers.

The department uses the network to power mapping technology to locate officers and resources for situational awareness. This allows command staff, shift commanders, and the dispatch center to see where all officers are at any given time.

The agency has integrated their FirstNet devices with mapping technologies and a mass communications incident command system. This combination allows for quick, efficient communications with everyone, including detectives, patrol officers, SWAT teams, and other agencies.

New technologies in action

Recently, when a shooting suspect fled into a wooded area, the Green Bay Police Department’s SWAT team swarmed the area to search for the suspect. Commanders in the office used FirstNet-enabled technologies to track and communicate with the team in real time and orchestrate a methodical search. They also assessed the area’s perimeter, discovered the area encompassed local schools, and deployed officers to monitor the locked down campuses and provide additional protection.

Green Bay officers now have extra eyes inside schools thanks to FirstNet-enabled technologies. For the first time, officers can use their phones to access school camera systems during emergencies and view a school’s live video feed, floor plan with room numbers, and rally points. They can even determine which students might need additional help due to disabilities.

“If you are looking to outfit officers and squad cars with phones, I would look at FirstNet as a solution provider,” said Commander Ebel. “They have the ability to give your officers and investigators out on the street preemption on their phones in case of emergencies.”

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