Bill in Congress Would Require Statewide Interoperability Coordinator

As reported by Homeland Security Today, US Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) has introduced legislation that would help enable state and local first responders to achieve interoperable emergency communications. The legislation seeks to maintain progress on interoperability despite cuts in grant programs.  Interoperability is the ability of police, fire, and emergency managers in the same and different jurisdictions to speak with one another during a combined response.

The article quotes Representative Payne who states,

. . . due to the elimination of the Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program, and reduced funding for other state and local homeland security grant programs, some states are eliminating SWICs [Statewide Interoperability Coordinators] altogether. . . “As a result, activities critical to maintaining and advancing interoperable emergency communications policies are not being effectively coordinated.”

The Statewide Interoperable Communications Enhancement Act of 2015 would ensure states maintain the progress that has been made toward achieving interoperability by requiring states to have a SWIC, or to delegate activities related to achieving interoperability to other individuals, the article describes.

In Maryland, Raymond Lehr, the State Interoperability Director resigned on December 31, 2014. Director Lehr was instrumental in the creation of the Radio Control Board, which oversees the development of the state’s interoperable public safety radio system, Maryland First. Creation of the Board was a MACo initiative in 2014 and there are five seats for local representatives on the Radio Control Board. Maryland’s Acting SWIC is Major Ken Hasenei of the Maryland State Police.

For more information read the full story from HS Today here, or read our previous posts from Conduit Street, From We to One: Radio Control Board Holds First MeetingGovernor Signs MACo’s Public Safety Radio Bill Into Law.