Chief Sylvia Moir is a police executive with more than three decades of local police practice and over a decade of experience as a chief of police. She was appointed to the FirstNet Authority Board by the Secretary of Commerce in October 2021. Chief Moir recently shared her perspectives with us on FirstNet, her service on the board, and the role of mindfulness in policing.
How did you become involved with FirstNet?
As a first responder, I was involved in bringing FirstNet into my organization. We spent a lot of time examining the viability of the network and what it meant for providing robust and connected service in our community. FirstNet is the right tool at the right time for us in the first responder community.
When I was asked if I would be interested in serving on the FirstNet Authority Board, I knew I wanted to bring a local first responder texture and perspective to this nationwide endeavor. I bring experience from the law enforcement side, including my understanding of the police role in homeland security. I bring experience, energy, perspective, academic insight, gravitas, collegiality, and respect for diverse opinions—that’s what I see as important in my role on the Board.
What do you hope to accomplish during your tenure on the FirstNet Authority Board?
There are several things that I hope to accomplish during my tenure. I hope to advance understanding of what this private and government partnership means to the nation, to first responders, and to communities. FirstNet demonstrates to our entire nation that a public-private partnership can make a genuine difference in the lives of people.
At the same time, my role as a member of the Board is to learn, to respect, to question, and to amplify the incredible work that the FirstNet Authority staff does every single day. They are exceptional professionals who are deeply committed to public service. We can tackle tough issues with dignity and respect, and that’s important for what I want to do in my time here.
What do you see as the impact of the FirstNet network and its capabilities?
The impact of FirstNet is profound because it's a real solution for first responders to plan and coordinate. FirstNet is designed to increase communication, to enhance resilience, and to keep first responders connected.
Priority and preemption on the network are absolutely vital. As a boots-on-the-ground responder, as a supervisor, and as an executive, I’ve had experiences where I couldn’t communicate because the network was overloaded. It’s a big deal. Now when a first responder is helping someone in need, that first responder can access communications to get resources to tackle the problem – all because of FirstNet.
FirstNet was born out of the many tragedies that first responders have encountered. It was envisioned by first responders so they could better serve and safeguard their communities.
You champion the benefits of mindfulness in policing, both for officers and the communities they serve. Can you tell us how that has shaped your career?
First responders sign up for a job that they know is dangerous and unpredictable, but it is their calling to safeguard people suffering and in need. They may never even know the person they’re helping, but they are still going to be there for them.
One of my law enforcement mentors once told me the first casualty of policing is our compassion. It’s a protective mechanism against all the suffering and struggle we see. When I became the chief of a police department in Northern California, I asked myself, “How can I use my office for good?” I decided to dive into mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness is simple, but not easy, Mindfulness is about grounding ourselves so we are able to handle the situation in which we find ourselves. That has a practical application with everything we do in our lives. When we are in the arena, we can work to be mindful, to recognize, to notice, to be flexible and agile. We can ultimately choose how we show up.
I think mindfulness would have served me really well early in my career as a field operator and early supervisor, but I didn't have a consciousness of it then. So now I put forth my greatest effort to positively influence the spaces that I'm in, to consistently challenge myself, and to insert humanity into the situation. That makes me who I am as a law enforcement officer.
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