FirstNet Serves as Key Component of Cold Case Investigation

Elmore County, AL – For law enforcement and first responders, every second counts, whether in times of emergencies or special investigations. That was just the case recently for several law enforcement agencies in Alabama, as a family in Elmore County awaited answers in the cold case disappearance of their loved one.

30-year-old Traci Pittman Kegley was last seen after leaving her home in Eclectic in April of 1998. In February of this year, law enforcement officials received a tip from a confidential source in connection with her decades-old disappearance, leading them to renew their search for closure in the case. When authorities set out to search a 300-acre wooded property in rural Elmore County, they used a mix of traditional police work and cutting-edge technology to try and find evidence.

The Alabama Emergency Management Agency was tasked with providing interoperable communications for the investigation. The state of Alabama had yet to approve a contract for state agencies to purchase FirstNet services. So, the agency reached out to the Principal Consultant with FirstNet-AT&T to see how they could help.

Powering the connections among first responders and these advance tools was a cell on wheels (COW) vehicle that linked the mobile devices to FirstNet, the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network being built by AT&T with oversight from the U.S. government’s First Responder Network Authority.

The connection allowed personnel to take pictures of spots of interest and send them back to the mobile command center in real time, while bringing in footage from the drones and data from the mapping application. The FirstNet devices also allowed mobile command staff to see the location of search teams in real time, adding to the safety the officers involved in the search. Together, these resources provided unprecedented situational awareness and allowed responders to search the land more effectively and thoroughly than was previously possible.

While the power of mobile devices and applications running over FirstNet contributed to the efficiency of this recent search, the investigation into the disappearance of Traci Kegley continues. If you have any information, call CrimeStoppers at (334) 215-STOP.