“It's got to work for us, it's got to be reliable and it's got to be there for us when we need it”

Posted on February 26, 2019

by Sgt. Derik Fillmore, Galveston County Sheriff’s Office, School Liaison Division

Communication is key in our role as school liaison officers with the Texas City Independent School District.

From dealing with daily issues that arise on campus to responding to an emergency, I need to be able to communicate with my responding deputies.

And FirstNet is the tool that’s helping to keep us connected. As law enforcement, we depend on whatever equipment we have at that time. So, it's got to work for us, it's got to be reliable. And it's got to be there for us when we need it.

Because when the technology doesn't work in an emergency, that just makes the situation that much worse.  

Keeping students and staff safe

On any given day, you’ll find me at each of the four campuses in my cluster – talking with principals and assistant principals, checking on deputies, securing doors. Making sure that we’re visible and communicating with the staff and the students on the campus.

At the same time, we’re building a rapport with the students. We’re learning to recognize when things aren’t quite right. And we’re earning their trust. They know they can come to us when they’re in trouble.

That reaffirms to them that we're here to ensure they have a safe and secure school day. I want them to know they can go to school and learn and teach without having to worry about an outside intruder.

With FirstNet I know that I have that reliable communication when I need it. I don't have to worry about being at a large event or an emergency situation happening and not being able to make phone calls or receive text messages or send text messages.

Prepared for any emergency

The risk of the communications technology not working would be catastrophic. We have 14 campuses within the district. And we have to be prepared for any emergency. That could be fire, weather, medical emergencies, a possible intruder on campus or any number of other situations that could come up.

We have a remote campus where we've had problems with cell service in the past. Since moving to FirstNet, that has greatly improved, where now we can have that communication with the campus administrators and the deputy on that campus.

I'm not a tech person, but I found this FirstNet-enabled device no harder to use than my everyday cell phone.

And as a dad with two kids in the district, I feel really comfortable the district is putting these layers of security in place. It lets me know that the district cares – that they're going with companies that have a reputation for providing quality service and reliable products to ensure the safety and security of students.

Other agencies that have not explored developing a relationship with FirstNet should do it. This is a network that was built for first responders – with first responders in mind to help us communicate.

Sgt. Derik Fillmore is with the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office, School Liaison Division. He supervises four campuses in the Texas City Independent School District and five deputies who work at those campuses. He has served 15 years in law enforcement and holds Master Peace Officer and Field Training Officer licenses from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

Want to learn more about how the Texas City ISD is using FirstNet?

Read the blogs below:

When it comes to security, communication is top priority for Texas City school district

By Mike Matranga, Executive Director of Security, Texas City ISD

FirstNet – the network “too good to be true” is helping simplify communications

By Sgt. Randall Johnston, Texas City Police

FirstNet has been instrumental in us developing…what I believe is a gold standard for school safety and security

By Rodney Cavness, Superintendent, Texas City ISD

And watch the following videos: