Coffee County, Manchester and Tennessee state officials and law enforcement agencies gathered Monday for a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the Tennessee Advanced Communication Network (TACN) in Coffee County.
“There has been a lot of vision put into this and a lot of people in the development and engineering,” Coffee County Sheriff Chad Partin said to those in attendance at the Coffee County Administrative Plaza.
“Today, we are able to communicate with the state of Tennessee Highway Patrol, TBI and even the National Guard,” added Partin.
Before officially opening the network for use in Coffee County, Partin demonstrated the power of the new TACN communications by using his radio and speaking with THP office in Memphis and Knoxville, as well as showcasing local communication strengths between sheriff’s department and fire.
Previously there had been serious concerns with Coffee County’s emergency communications from rural locations, even from SROs at certain elementary schools. TACN eliminates that, and allows for multiple agencies to communicate together for major events – a need which first came to light during the 9/11 terror attacks in New York when NYFD and NYPD could not communicate.
With TACN, first responders, including law enforcement, fire, EMS, and healthcare providers, have reliable communications capabilities for daily operations and the ability to talk to each other to coordinate at the local, regional, and statewide level to respond in the event of an emergency or disaster.
TACN is made up of mobile and fixed radio transmission sites across the state so that from Tennessee’s urban to most rural areas, first responders will have consistent reliable communication coverage.
Tennessee Commission of Safety & Homeland Security Jeff Long said that communications with TACN were operable during the 2020 Christmas Day bombing in Nashville, despite AT&T outages all across the southeast.
“During the Bonnaroo festival we will know be able to talk to THP, city police, county and we can all have a common channel to talk on,” Long explained. “You also have 30 miles of interstate that help our troopers. This will give us coverage in that area. City of Tullahoma has started funding to get on the system in the future.”
Manchester City Police and Fire, as well as Coffee County Sheriff’s Department, Rescue Squad and rural volunteer fire departments are now on the network. EMS is coming next, according to Coffee County Mayor Judd Matheny.
“For the county this was funded with over a million dollars in ARP (American Rescue Plan) money,” said Matheny.
During his remarks, Matheny commended former commissioner Bobby Bryan for his work on the project
“Commissioner Bryan did the heavy lifting to make this happen,” said Matheny.
The city’s portion of $500,000 was paid out of the city budget, Mayor Marilyn Howard said.
The state funding for the network comes from the Tennessee General Assembly. Senator Janice Bowling and State Representative Rush Bricken were also in attendance at the ribbon cutting Monday.