Sheriff Richard Stanek speaks to an audience at a conference.

Championing Public Safety’s Network

Throughout my nearly four decades in law enforcement, nothing was more important to me than keeping my communities safe. It is at the heart of everything we do and why we wear the badge. 

A lot goes into having a long and successful policing career. Top of mind is making sure that your officers have the right tools they need do their jobs and keep themselves and others safe on the front lines. Technology and communications are the most important of those tools.

As a former Sheriff and elected official in the state of Minnesota, I have been engaged in public safety communications at the local, state, and national levels throughout my career. From working on our statewide LMR network to setting up a state-of-the-art 911 center, I have seen firsthand how technology can help first responders do their jobs safer and more efficiently.

This is what led me to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority). Even before legislation created the FirstNet Authority, I worked with other public safety officials to advocate for building a nationwide broadband network just for public safety. We—all of public safety—needed priority, preemption, and reliability that commercial providers were not providing exclusively to public safety at the time. Creating FirstNet took a long and hard-fought effort, requiring all of public safety—police, fire, EMS, and those who support public safety—working towards a common goal.  

When I was offered a position on the FirstNet Authority Board, I considered it to be both an honor and a great responsibility. This was a chance to give back to the men and women in uniform, whom I’ve led, supported and worked alongside for over 30 years. It was also a chance to transform and revolutionize public safety communications and help modernize policing. I knew that public safety was going to depend on the success of FirstNet. 

Six years later, as I retire my Board seat, I could not be prouder of the work that FirstNet Authority accomplished to deliver this network to public safety. To have a front row seat while FirstNet matured from concept to reality has been fulfilling, both personally and professionally. The key was making sure that public safety’s needs were represented at every step of the way. The FirstNet Authority committed to this in the early days of its consultation with public safety, and it still carries through today with the deployment and operation of the network.

My time on the Board proved to me that the FirstNet Authority is unwavering in its commitment to public safety and will continue to deliver based on what public safety needs from its network. This has, and will always be, a core value of the organization. I will enjoy watching the continued success of FirstNet as it evolves with public safety.

I want to thank my fellow Board members, the FirstNet Authority leadership and staff, and the Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration for their continued support of the FirstNet mission and their dedication to America’s first responders. It has been a privilege to work on this first of its kind network, and I look forward to continuing to champion public safety’s communications needs.

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