YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Cell Firm and Police to Work on Access

Riverside County drops a proposed moratorium on towers after Sprint agrees to streamline GPS emergency procedures.

January 11, 2006|Susannah Rosenblatt | Times Staff Writer

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday shelved a proposed moratorium on the construction of Sprint cellular phone towers that was proposed after the company failed to help police find an abducted child in a car with a Sprint phone inside.

But the board unanimously backed an investigation by company and law enforcement officials into the incident and efforts to streamline the wireless company's emergency procedures.

Ten-month-old Wade Cochran was buckled into a car seat in his parents' Lincoln Aviator when the SUV was stolen from outside their home in Eastvale, near Corona, on the morning of Dec. 23.

Father Jason Cochran's cellphone, equipped with a global positioning system, was also inside the SUV. The boy's parents and Riverside County sheriff's deputies tried to find the baby by calling Sprint for tracking data, but the company said it required a subpoena and a $25 fee before it could release the data, said mother Stephanie Cochran.

After 2 1/2 hours, deputies found Wade, unharmed, in the Lincoln about a mile from the home -- without the aid of cellular data, officials said.

At Tuesday's meeting, officials from Sprint and the Sheriff's Department assured the board they were collaborating to make sure the system "works as well as it possibly can," said Ann Pongracz, Sprint's west region director of state legislative affairs.

"This situation called our attention to a problem we had not previously experienced. We know that our processes can ... be improved," Pongracz told the board, while also emphasizing the company's legal obligation to protect customers' privacy.

"It's very obvious to me that the message has been heard by Sprint," said Supervisor John Tavaglione, who drafted the motion, and whose 1st District constituents include residents of unincorporated Eastvale.

Temecula City Councilman Mike Naggar said Tuesday he planned to submit a letter to Sprint questioning the company's response in the Dec. 23 abduction.

Naggar says the city, which contracts with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, will work with the county to implement new emergency procedures established by law enforcement and Sprint.

Los Angeles Times Articles