The Public Safety Alliance (PSA) today expressed its appreciation for the full House’s vote of support for D Block spectrum allocation to public safety and funding for the Public Safety Broadband Network, but warned of an ominous storm cloud on the horizon as our nation’s first responders, who put their lives on the line everyday, learn more about the full extent of the other provisions in the bill that gives with one hand and takes away with the other to make H.R. 3630, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011 disastrous for public safety’s goal for nationwide interoperable emergency communications.
“Today is filled with strong and mixed emotions for our nation’s first responders and public safety officials. While we welcome the widespread bipartisan and bicameral support increasingly shown for allocation of D Block spectrum to public safety, and $5 to $6.5 billion or more in funding to finally realize the nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network, we are bitterly disappointed that our nation’s first responders concerns over the public safety spectrum giveback provision in H.R. 3630 remain unaddressed. It is our expectation that the negotiations between the House and Senate will ultimately yield a solution that fixes our concerns with the bill,” stated Charles Dowd, PSA spokesperson and Deputy Chief of the New York City Police Department. “We have waited long enough and any further delay is not acceptable. Congress must work together to pass a bill that works for our first responders and works for America.”
“While this House bill takes two steps forward by allocating D Block spectrum and providing some of the funding needed to build out the public safety network,” added Gregory Frederick, immediate past president of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association and Chief of the Louisville, Kentucky Fire Department, “it takes three steps back by yanking 14 MHz of narrowband spectrum that public safety is currently using for interoperable mission-critical voice communications. The bill also straps public safety and state and local governments with an unproven, unaccountable and unworkable “administrator” governance model, and to top it off it does not provide sufficient funding to assure expedited build out of the public safety broadband network in rural America. As currently written, this bill cannot stand. We urge the Senate to do the right thing for America’s first responders and insert S.911; Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act of 2011 in place of the Walden JOBS Act upon receiving H.R.3630 from the House, and send this bill back to the House with this bipartisan legislation instead for final passage.
Additionally, the PSA urges Congress to allow states and localities maximum flexibility in utilizing enhanced “secondary use” beyond current law, and in developing and entering into private and public partnerships that best meet their specific needs to assure sustainment of their mission-critical public safety broadband systems for the future security of all Americans.
For more information about public safety’s concerns over the House passed H.R. 3630; the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011, go to www.psafirst.org/take-action. For more information on a Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network, visit www.psafirst.org.