COPS Awards $8.8M For Communication Interoperability

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) has awarded $8.8 million to three law enforcement agencies to enhance interoperable communications networks.

These networks enable emergency service personnel from different jurisdictions and disciplines to communicate directly during crises. The grants will offset the cost of purchasing voice and data communications equipment, enhancing communications infrastructures, and project management.

The grants were awarded under COPS Interoperable Communications Technology Grant Program, which was established to increase the number of interoperable communications systems used nationally by law enforcement, fire service, and emergency medical service agencies in the same metropolitan area. Grant recipients are Houma, Louisiana ($1.7M); Barnstable, Massachusetts ($2.7M); and Greenville, South Carolina ($4.4M).

These grants follow $237.4 million in funding that has been awarded to 62 metropolitan areas by COPS since 2003. Under the grant solicitation, the largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) from each state and U.S. territory, as well as the 50 largest MSAs in the country were invited to apply for the grants.

“Emergencies do not limit themselves to jurisdictional boundaries,” said COPS Director Carl R. Peed. “When an incident occurs, first responders from different counties, cities, and towns must be able to coordinate all available resources. The ability to communicate and share information in real-time is crucial to this process.”

In addition to awarding grants that support interoperable communications, COPS offers a range of technical assistance and consultative resources to cities interested in achieving interoperability. On May 24th – 25th COPS will host a National Interoperability Summit where emergency service executives and technical experts will gather to discuss and explore interoperability best practices.

The COPS Office is also planning to release a new publication intended to assist emergency service officials throughout the country with developing and enhancing their interoperable communications capacity. To request a free copy of COPS new interoperability publication (Communications Interoperability: A Tech Guide for Interagency Communications Projects) once it is released, please contact COPS Office Response Center at (800) 421-6770.

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