Meet the Expert: Law Enforcement Advisor Harry Markley Sees a Safer, More Secure Future with FirstNet
Before joining the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), Law Enforcement Expert Harry Markley spent more than 30 years with the Phoenix Police Department in Arizona. He began his career as a patrol officer, and through the years, served in nearly every part of the department. He worked as a narcotics detective, training officer, crime lab administrator, and director of the State Police Academy, among other roles. Harry retired as Assistant Chief, overseeing the downtown operations unit which handled the city’s sporting events, including the patrol division and the tactical response team responsible for crowd control.
We chatted with Harry to discuss how law enforcement has embraced technology and how FirstNet will enable access to tools that will increase safety and improve operations for officers.
How did you see communications tools and methods change during your career?
Markley: I saw a significant increase in the use of technology over my career. When I first joined the police force, officers weren’t individually assigned radios. At the beginning of each shift, you put a radio in your patrol car and had to take it with you as you responded to calls. By the time I retired, all officers were issued their own radios, and some department personnel were issued cell phones.
When implemented and used properly, technology can make the job of a police officer easier and more efficient. For example, now officers have body cameras that capture video which can be uploaded to computers or tablets for immediate review, and that footage can be used to help write reports. The evolution of technology is a game changer for public safety.
What made you want to work with the FirstNet Authority?
Markley: I spent my entire career in one job – working in law enforcement. Public safety is all I knew, so after I retired, I wanted to continue to stay involved and help first responders. The FirstNet Authority mission was something I truly believed in. I knew the nationwide broadband network for public safety was important and was going to make a difference in the technology available to responders.
I saw the value it was going to provide, and I knew it was going to make all public safety disciplines safer and better able to communicate. I wanted to be a part of showing that benefit to agencies and helping to ensure the network fulfilled that need.
Where do you see FirstNet having the greatest impact for law enforcement personnel?
Markley: Often when we talk about FirstNet, we focus on how it can benefit large events, or emergencies. Whether it’s managing large crowds or working in the aftermath of a major hurricane, FirstNet does bring value to first responders for major incidents. But I think the network will truly have the greatest impact on the patrol officer in rural America, who traditionally would not be able to communicate with dispatch or other officers due to lack of radio coverage. With FirstNet, that officer will be able to use a phone to call, text, or use a push-to-talk application to send and receive information.
Ultimately, FirstNet will benefit the boots-on-the-ground responders, making them safer and equipping them with tools that will help them do their jobs better and more efficiently. And as new features roll out on the network, such as location-based services that give us the ability to know exactly where our officers are, the benefits to everyday operations will continue to grow.
In your role as the FirstNet Authority’s Law Enforcement subject matter expert, how do you work with public safety?
Markley: I work with our staff to help shape functions and features that are important to public safety. For example, our Situational Awareness domain team is looking at different devices and applications that will help give patrol officers more situational awareness before they arrive on the scene of an incident.
Additionally, I engage with law enforcement agencies from across the country. I’m available any time to answer questions and help navigate different aspects of the FirstNet system. And if I don’t have the answer, I can connect you with the appropriate people to get you what you need. I am the point of contact for law enforcement agencies and can help address your needs.
I am also here to listen to public safety. The input of current responders is critical to ensuring FirstNet is meeting the needs of officers in the field today. The FirstNet Authority hosts summits and webinars to bring law enforcement personnel together to discuss issues, challenges, and ways that FirstNet can bridge gaps. We use that feedback to drive our programs and reinvestments back into the network to make it the best fit for public safety.
FirstNet is purpose-built for public safety, and it is a tremendous program. There is no other network that has the security, priority, and preemption that FirstNet offers, and it was developed for you to make first responders and the public safer. I’m here as your representative to make sure FirstNet works for you and help ensure you’re able to take advantage of all of the features.
FirstNet belongs to public safety, and the FirstNet Authority’s job is to help ensure it will evolve in the future to continue to meet those needs. To share your feedback or ask a question about FirstNet for law enforcement, contact Harry Markley, Senior Law Enforcement Advisor, at Harry.Markley@firstnet.gov or call 571-524-1853.
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