Senate Committee Considers Rockefeller D-Block Bill to Create Nationwide Interoperable Public Safety

On February 16th, the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee held a hearing on Sen. John D. Rockefeller's bill, The Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act of 2011, which would allocate the "D-Block" of wireless spectrum to our nation's public safety officials.

CWA supports this bill that will allow America's first responders to create a nationwide interoperable communications network. The network would make it possible for our public safety workers to communicate with one another during times of crisis, and at the same time create jobs and add more than $33 billion dollars in revenue to the Federal budget through spectrum auctions, a portion of which would be used to fund the buildout of the public safety network.

It is no surprise that every major national public safety organization supports Sen. Rockefeller's bill. Our first responders are still using a 20th century communications system that limits their ability to carry out their duties effectively. Sadly, junior high school students can use communication equipment to gossip with friends that is superior to equipment issued to public safety workers who must respond to fires, crimes and medical emergencies.

The committee hearing highlighted this sobering reality with a panel that included New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and several others. Commissioner Kelly spoke about the benefits that a national interoperable network for America's first responders will bring. That kind of network will allow firemen to access detailed building plans before entering a burning building, or allow policemen to take digital fingerprint scans and instantly run a background check on a suspect. It would provide instant weather updates for firemen fighting wildfires. And in the Border States, a nationwide network allows for seamless communication between local police and federal agencies.

America's first responders, public safety organizations, and President Obama agree: allocating the "D-Block" to our public safety employees will keep them, and the Americans they are charged with protecting, safer.

Rockefeller's Bill Gains Support of Every Major National Public Safety Organization

Quotes from Today's Hearing on Safeguarding Our Future: Building a Nationwide Network for First Responders

Chairman Rockefeller Remarks on Safeguarding Our Future: Building a Nationwide Network for First Responders