Wireless network for public safety arrives in Pointe Coupee

The Louisiana Wireless Information Network has expanded into Livonia with the installation of a new 300-foot communication tower that local and state officials said will strengthen radio communication for authorities in Pointe Coupee Parish.

The $2.1 million tower, on La. 77 behind the volunteer fire department station in Livonia, will also give state officials essential wireless network coverage for safety agencies along Interstate 110 between Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Bud Torres said Tuesday.

The state’s wireless information network is the primary system state and local public safety agencies use for communications and has become an essential tool during emergency situations and natural disasters

“We’ve never had an investment in infrastructure, like this, in a long time,” Torres said.

“I’ve wanted to integrate the sheriff’s department into the LWIN system since I came in office. Prior to LWIN all local agencies operated on their own portable radio networks; no one could talk to one another.”

Torres seized an opportunity to expand the LWIN’s footprint into the parish when the Louisiana Recovery Authority awarded the parish more than $15 million following Hurricane Gustav.

Torres said he asked the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury to consider allocating a portion of the money toward building the new tower because it would also beef up communication operations for the parish’s 911 system.

Parish Administrator Jim Bello said the Police Jury held a series of public hearings in 2009 to determine what projects the LRA funds would be used for.

“All the funds had to go through the Police Jury and this was one of the identified projects that was embraced by the public,” Bello said.

The tower, which is the 123rd within the LWIN network, officially went online Friday.

Officials said Tuesday that radio communications have already vastly improved within the parish where portable radio coverage historically has been lacking.

“This is a pretty large parish so this gives you end-to-end coverage,” said Col. Mike Edmonson, superintendent for the State Police. “These towers have really been helping us close the gap of communication between local and state agencies across the state.”

He said good communication is critical during emergency situations.