By Bob Belcher
Corsicana Daily Sun
A new tool to help Navarro County Sheriff’s Office tactical officers combines state of the art technology with an old fashioned telephone handset.
That combination is seen as a valuable addition to the tactical abilities of the SWAT officers, said Sheriff Elmer Tanner.
It’s called a “throw phone” - a small box connected to a long cable that can be used to establish communication in a variety of situations, among them trying to talk to a suspect who may have barricaded themselves in a building, or refusing law enforcement orders to exit a structure.
“We have to be able to establish communication,” Tanner said. “If we have no other means of communication, this gives us the ability to place this device into the situation and establish a rapport with the individuals we’re trying to negotiate with.”
The technology allows officers to physically “throw” the sturdy box containing an old-fashioned telephone handset to a suspect inside a building, and hooks to a control unit that is manned by tactical negotiators. Signaling to and from the “throw phone” is possible for getting the attention of the suspect or the officers manning the device.
The device is a first for the unit, and a welcome addition, Tanner said. It was purchased for $13,500 using budgeted funds.
Two recent events have demonstrated the need for the device, Tanner said - a barricaded individual on Dobbins Road, and the recent search for a man wanted in connection with a “drive by shooting” officers thought was hiding in a local hotel room. In both instances, use of such a device would have been a useful tactic, Tanner said.
The device may also have non-confrontational uses, Tanner added, including emergencies or communication outages.
“There are things we can use this for outside of ‘crisis’ situations,” Tanner said. “We’ll use it in any situation that will be beneficial to the citizens of Navarro County.”
Training will be provided to the department’s tactical officers and the four certified negotiators in the sheriff’s office, and be available at all times to the squad.