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 For Immediate Release
September 22, 2003

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES $66.5 MILLION TO SUPPORT INTEGRATED COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS FOR FIRST RESPONDERS

Baltimore, Boston, Columbus (OH), Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville/Jefferson County (KY), Nassau County (NY), New Orleans, Newark (NJ), Orange County (FL), and San Jose Metros To Benefit From Grants

Washington D.C. - Attorney General John Ashcroft and U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) today awarded $66.5 million to 14 communities to develop integrated communications networks among emergency response agencies within the city's metropolitan area. The grants will cover the purchase of communications equipment, enhancements to communications infrastructure, and project management expenses.

The grants were awarded under an Interoperable Communications Technology Grant program that is jointly administered by COPS and the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). This new demonstration program is intended to encourage an increase in the number of integrated communications systems used by law enforcement, fire service, and emergency medical service agencies in the same metropolitan area. Each city is required to provide a 25 percent match of the federal funds, which were capped at $6 million.

"As we learned on September 11 and as Hurricane Isabel reminded the East Coast [last week] coordinated communication among law enforcement, fire service, and emergency medical agencies in times of emergencies is vital to protect our communities," said Attorney General John Ashcroft.

"Many emergency service providers still rely on communications systems that are often not compatible with those of neighboring agencies. Today's grants are intended to change that," said Carl R. Peed, COPS Director.

COPS provides law enforcement agencies with an array of community policing training and technical assistance resources intended to increase their capacity to fight crime. COPS also funds the hiring of community policing officers. Since 1995, COPS has provided more than $6.9 billion to nearly 13,000 state and local law enforcement agencies to hire over 118,000 officers, deputies, and troopers.

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