Lincoln and Gaston County Sheriff’s officials have teamed up to support a state bill calling for better mobile communications coverage in each of the counties’ rural districts.
The North Carolina Senate passed its first reading of House Bill 664, also known as the The Cell Tower Deployment Act, on Tuesday, according to the N.C. General Assembly website.
Earlier this month, both Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter and Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger released information on the new legislative piece, explaining how it will promote both public safety and the safety of area law enforcement officers.
The law calls for the placement of additional wireless communications support structures in each of the counties’ necessary jurisdictions.
There are numerous dead zones in Lincoln County, particularly on the western end, Carpenter said.
During an emergency, deputies need to have quick access to the Communications Center, Sheriff’s Office or fellow officers.
While officers who patrol alone are already outfitted with cell phones, they are useless if wireless service is unavailable in a particular patrol area.
Any situation that forces a deputy to search for a land line phone ultimately prevents the officer and other first-responders from getting to an emergency as quickly as possible, putting lives at risk.
Carpenter noted that any time one of his agency’s on-duty men fails to respond to a two-way radio page, the Sheriff’s Office contacts the deputy’s cell phone. If the officer fails to answer the phone, a fellow deputy is dispatched to the patrol vehicle’s location for possible assistance.
The bill not only calls for improved cell phone service but also increased Internet use in the field. Residents can also benefit from broadband coverage throughout the county, whether it be checking the N.C. Sex Offender Registry while visiting the park with children or accessing other necessary government services and resources, the release said.
Carpenter called the potential law a “win-win” for both citizens and emergency services.
“If one life is saved by this bill then the cost incurred would be priceless,” he said.
For more information on House Bill 664, visit ncga.state.nc.us/.