PRECINCT 444 Podcast

A Podcast of The National Law Enforcement Museum

The Story of the FirstNet Authority


Our mission, as mandated by Congress, is to oversee the buildout, deployment, and operation of the nationwide public safety broadband network called FirstNet.

More than 10 years ago, FirstNet – The Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network was created as part of the Middle-Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act (Public Law 112-96), which was officially signed into law on February 22, 2012. As a result, the FirstNet Authority was given authorization to carry out the building, deployment, and operation of the network. Part of the law also required the FirstNet Authority to establish relationships with federal, state, tribal, and local public safety entities to ensure the network meets the needs of public safety across the country. A testament to the trust and belief in the FirstNet Authority is its continued growth by amassing more than four million users to date.

This special series about the Story of the FirstNet Authority is divided into four segments, each featuring two participants who were major contributors to the founding of FirstNet.


Segment One of the Story of FirstNet, Harlin McEwen and Chuck Dowd describe public safety communications prior to the events of the September 11th attacks.

Segment Two of the Story of FirstNet, Jeff Johnson and Dick Mirgon discuss the development of relationships between public safety entities as the basis for improving communication within the FirstNet Authority infrastructure.

Segment Three of the Story of the FirstNet Authority, Chris Moore and Sue Swenson review the hesitation among commercial carries and first responders, and the convincing it took on their part to present this as a necessity to each and every person who would listen.

Segment Four of the Story of FirstNet, Ed Parkinson and Jim Bugel conclude with the official bid of the FirstNet Authority and how that sets up for a successful trajectory in communications for all first responders.



Bill Beaman

Guest host of the Icons series

For more than 20 years, Bill held high level positions in both print and broadcast journalism. His media experience includes serving as a magazine bureau chief in Hong Kong and Washington, D.C, writing and broadcasting for international radio, and providing analysis on cable television news programs.

Currently Bill oversees a communications firm, working with clients on their media, messaging, and public speaking skills. His clients have included the NFL Players Association, the World Bank, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Morgan Stanley, The George Washington University, and the Public Broadcasting System (PBS).

In addition to his work with the firm he co-founded, Bill is a senior coach with the communications firm Global Public Speaking. He also oversees communications for the Office of Congressional Ethics on Capitol Hill and is a past Professor of Public Speaking and Strategic Communication at American University in Washington, D.C. Bill earned a master’s degree from Harvard University and an undergraduate degree from Duke University.

Harlin McEwen

Police Chief (Ret) & FBI Deputy Assistant Director (Ret)

Chief McEwen served for 13 years as the Chief of Police for the Cayuga Heights (NY) Police Department before moving on to serve as the Deputy Commissioner for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. He later returned to police work, serving as the Chief of Police for the City of Ithaca (NY) before taking the position of Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI. In addition, he served for more than 37 years as the Chairman of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Communications & Technology Committee. During that time he was the principal representative and spokesperson for the IACP on matters relating to communications and technology.


Chuck Dowd

Retired Assistant Police Chief NYPD

Chuck Dowd, Retired Assistant Police Chief Charles F. Dowd spent Chief Charles Dowd spent 35 years with the NYPD in a host of assignments including patrol, detectives, narcotics division, and communications. He was in charge of the the NYC 911 system and police radio communications for 12 years covering such events as September 11th, the northeast blackout, and hurricane Sandy. He was the NYPD’s lead on the development of the NYC 311 system and the effort to create FirstNet. He served on the FirstNet board of directors as an inaugural member.


Jeff Johnson

Retired Fire Chief and Past President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs

Chief Jeff Johnson has an extensive public safety background, with broad experience at the local, national and international level. Chief Johnson rose through the ranks to become the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Fire Chief for 15 years retiring in 2010 after a 32-year career. Chief Johnson has authored 2 books: Making the Pieces Fit – A book on merger and consolidation and Recruiting, Training and Maintaining Volunteer Firefighters, both with Jones and Bartlett publishing. Chief Johnson served as the Vice Chairman of FirstNet who is deploying the world’s first nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety and national security users. Chief Johnson has served as President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), President of the Western and Oregon chiefs and is currently the CEO of the Western Fire Chiefs Association which serves fire chiefs in the 11 western states from Guam/Saipan to Utah. Chief Johnson also has an extensive private sector background serving as an advisor or board member to numerous technology companies. Chief Johnson is also the principal at Sisters Meat and Smokehouse which launched in August of 2016. Chief Johnson is a graduate of Concordia University and the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer program.


Richard Mirgon

Richard Mirgon founding members of the Public Safety Alliance which was responsible for the reallocation for the “D block” broadband spectrum and the legislation that created FirstNet. has over 30 years of public safety experience with the last 20 years in the public safety technology field. After retiring from government service in 2009 he has been providing consulting service to the private sector, state and local government. He is a Past President for the Association of Public Safety Officials International (APCO). He is currently the co-owner of Next Paradigm Consulting, LLC and Richard Mirgon Consulting LLC with his wife Shari.

Richard has participated in several national and statewide activities to include the FCC’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee, SAFECOM Executive Committee, and the Commercial Mobile Alerting Services Committee. In December of 1999 he was appointed by Governor Guinn to the State Emergency Response Commission and served as Co-Chair from March 2001 until March of 2006. Additionally, he served as Co-Chair of the WMD/Homeland Security Steering Committee from 1999 thru the fall of 2003.

Richard holds a BA in Political Science and Public Administration.


Chris Moore

Chief of Police (Ret.)

Chief Chris Moore is a principal at Brooks Bawden Moore, LLC. He is a veteran law enforcement executive with over 34 years of public safety experience. His expertise spans many facets of public safety including field operations management, emergency communications/911 operations, internal affairs investigations, and media relations/crisis communications. Over the course of his public safety career, he has served as a police officer, firefighter, and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). In 2013, after rising thorough every rank of the San Jose Police Department, Moore retired as Chief of Police of the 10th largest city in the United States (over 1,000,000 population). In 1999, Chief Moore was selected as a White House Fellow and served as Counsel to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno. In 2004, he was honored as a Fulbright Fellow and studied police accountability/discipline at New Scotland Yard and the London School of Economics. As a representative of the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), Chief Moore served as Chair of the Public Safety Alliance (PSA), a group of nine national public safety organizations, created to advocate for legislation to reallocate the 700 MHz D Block spectrum to public safety and for the creation of a nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN). This successful nationwide grass roots effort entailed significant consensus building and relationship management at all levels of government. He also served as the MCCA representative to the FBI CJIS Advisory Policy Board (APB) where he served as Chairman of the Information Sharing Subcommittee. Moore is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA). Chief Moore received his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Public Administration degree from San Jose State University. Moore also received an A.S. degree in Fire Science from Indian Valley College. Moore holds a Juris Doctor degree from Lincoln Law School of San Jose where he was voted by his fellow graduates as Outstanding Graduate. He is an active member of the State Bar of California. Chief Moore is a graduate of the FBI National Executive Institute at Quantico, Virginia. He is also a graduate of the California POST Law Enforcement Command College where he was honored by his peers to receive the Hank Koehn Award as the outstanding graduate and to serve as their graduation speaker. Moore is the recipient of numerous awards and citations for specific law enforcement casework including the SJPD Hazardous Duty Award for the confrontation and arrest of an armed homicide suspect at the scene of an active shooter event at a crowded bar.

Sue Swenson

Former Chair of the First Responder Network Authority

Ms. Swenson currently serves on the board of Vislink Technologies, Inc., a provider of wireless video communications products, where she is board chair and chair of the audit committee and she also serves as a board member of Public Safety Towers, a provider of wireless telecommunications infrastructure. From 2012 to August 2018 Ms. Swenson was on the board of The First Responder Network Authority and served as its Chair of the Board from 2014 until August 2018. From October 2015 to June 2017. Ms. Swenson served as chair and chief executive officer of Inseego Corp. (previously Novatel Wireless, Inc.), and served as the board chair from April 2014 to June 2017 after joining the Novatel Wireless board in 2012. Previously, Ms. Swenson served in numerous senior executive roles, including as president and chief executive officer of Sage Software – North America, president and chief operating officer of T-Mobile USA and of Leap Wireless International, Inc., president and chief executive officer of Cellular One, and president and chief operating officer of PacTel Cellular. Ms. Swenson holds a B.A. in French from San Diego State University.

Edward Parkinson

President, Public Sector, RapidSOS, Former CEO, FirstNet Authority

Edward Parkinson has over a decade of experience in public policy and public safety communications. Currently, he serves as President of Public Sector for RapidSOS, an intelligent safety platform company connecting over 500 million devices to 911 and leveraged by 95% of the 911 emergency call centers in the United States. He has served in this role since May 2022.

Prior to his time at RapidSOS, Edward was the CEO of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), the United States’ nationwide public safety broadband network. Valued at $47 billion, FirstNet currently has over 4 million connections, is leveraged by public safety in every state and territory, and is widely accepted as one of the most successful public-private-partnerships in the United States. As one of the founders of FirstNet, Edward was involved in all aspects of the program including the creation of the organizational strategy and structure, outreach and consultation with Governors and their staffs, the development of the business model, and strategic planning and execution.

In an earlier role at FirstNet, Edward was responsible for developing a nationwide political strategy which incorporated all Congressional members, Governors, state legislatures, and local elected officials. This strategy involved the recruitment and management of a highly skilled team, the selection and oversight of political consultants, and close coordination and partnership with, AT&T, a Fortune 10 company that is in partnership with the Authority to build the FirstNet network.

Prior to joining FirstNet, Edward was a Professional Staff Member with the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee where he specialized in policy and legislation related to emergency communications, national security, intelligence, and cybersecurity. He has worked in the private sector for McKenna, Long, and Aldridge, LLC, a national law firm, and a Kearsarge Global Advisors, an international political consultancy.

Mr. Parkinson hold degrees from Georgetown University (M.A), and WITS University, South Africa (B.A., Hons).


Jim Bugel

President – FirstNet Program, FirstNet Program at AT&T

With over 30 years of experience in the wireless and wired telecommunications industry, Mr. Bugel has a significant background in public safety, national security, cybersecurity, and emergency preparedness. He joined AT&T from Cingular Wireless and has also held leadership roles at BellSouth and GTE. Mr. Bugel led AT&T’s efforts to reshape the public safety communications industry. Following the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation to create a dedicated, nationwide network for America’s first responders, Mr. Bugel worked with Congress and the nation’s public safety leadership to pass the Middle-Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 – the legislation that established the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority). The FirstNet Authority is an independent authority responsible for building, operating, and evolving the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (FirstNet). Mr. Bugel led AT&T’s complex and successful competitive bid to build the FirstNet network – a 25-year federal contract AT&T was honored to receive in March of 2017. Following the creation of the public-private partnership, he led and managed a nationwide campaign to get the Governors for all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia to “opt in” to FirstNet. These efforts led to the unanimous decision by all 56 jurisdictions to “opt in.” Today, Mr. Bugel is responsible for all public safety broadband communications strategy and policy for the FirstNet program at AT&T. He oversees the Response Operations Group (ROG) that manages the nationwide fleet of FirstNet network deployable assets, which provides first responder agencies with FirstNet connectivity – whenever and wherever they need it. The FirstNet ROG deploys portable cell sites and other network assets to support public safety’s response to wildfires, hurricanes, the COVID-19 pandemic, search and rescues, and other emergency and planned events. Prior to his current role, Mr. Bugel was AT&T’s principal public safety and national security representative to the White House, Department of Defense, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency. In addition to his primary responsibilities at AT&T, Mr. Bugel served on the International Disaster Response Sub-Committee to the U.S. Department of State’s Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy (ACICIP). He also has been actively involved in the President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC). Mr. Bugel served as Chair of the FCC’s Joint Advisory Committee on Communications Capabilities of Emergency, Medical and Public Health Care Facilities, a past co-chair of the NSTAC Emergency Communications and Interoperability Task Force, is a former Vice Chair of Homeland Security’s Communications Sector Coordinating Council (CSCC) and is a Radio Club of America Fellow. Mr. Bugel received his bachelor’s degree in Business Science from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He resides in McLean, VA.