Thursday, August 30, 2012

Do police use cell phones?

As a matter of fact, they do. In Chapter 9, of Blood Flats, Sheriff Steven Phelps uses his personal cell phone to contact a police agency outside of Hawkins County:




Behind him, Norris ordered the crowd back again, his voice cracking under obvious stress. A few male onlookers shouted back this time: By God they’re killing people in our backyard, one of them said. Don’t tell us to stand back but give us some goddamned answers.
For a brief moment Norris looked like he was going to draw his gun—then thankfully thought better of it. Norris was the wrong man for a crowd like this. One hothead among them—coupled with one miscalculation on Norris’s part—and the crowd could easily degenerate into a mob.
Phelps stood just out of earshot as he pulled his personal cell phone—rather than his police radio—from his belt to begin his requests for help and resources. For police calls beyond the county line, the cell phone was his only immediate option. His 700 MHz police radio couldn’t patch directly into the Frankfort network. Like all states in the post-9/11 world, Kentucky had plans to make all its local emergency networks compatible and interoperable statewide, with updated equipment and additional radio towers. But that would take more time, more state budget appropriations, and more federal grants.
Phelps was already having second thoughts about his decision to let McCabe run. Would he have made the same decision ten or fifteen years ago? Would he have done differently if the fugitive had been someone other than Lori Mills’s son?
There was no way of knowing.
He pushed these questions aside when a police dispatcher in Frankfort answered his call. Phelps began to set the wheels of law enforcement in motion.

- Blood Flats, Chapter 9




A reader asked me about this detail, apparently incredulous regarding the idea that law enforcement personnel would  rely on cell phones. It happens, though--especially when police in the field need to contact agencies outside their immediate operating area. 

And yes, I did confirm this item directly with the source. I sought out a Cincinnati Sheriff's Deputy (long story), who was kind enough to fill me in.