Los Angeles Opts Out of LA-RICS System

The Los Angeles City Council voted 12-0 yesterday to opt out of membership in the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS). A report prepared by the city cited, among other things, the estimated $18 million cost for the city to build its own land mobile radio system for the Los Angeles Police Department by 2017, compared with the $149 million cost to build the LA-RICS LMR system. The city, however, will remain an affiliate member of LA-RICS. LA-RICS has been plagued by a number of problems as it sought to build out its network, including objections from fire fighters and city residents.

Courtesy TRDaily



DHS’s Cybersecurity Improving, Needs More Work, Audit Says

Some components of the Department of Homeland Security operated information systems that hadn’t been adequately vetted, and the department’s “secret” and “top secret” systems were not included in security evaluations required by the Office of Management and Budget, according to a report issued today by the DHS inspector general.  Overall, DHS has taken steps to improve its information security programs but needs to do more, the report said.  The inspector general offered six recommendations, including ensuring that the department’s components comply with security requirements “throughout the year instead of peaking in compliance” just before submission of annual security reports.

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC Proposes Rules to Improve Wireless Emergency Alerts

The FCC adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking on November 19 proposing ways to improve wireless emergency alerts (WEA) three years after carriers began transmitting them, including by increasing the length of messages, enabling alerts to include URLs and embedded phone numbers, and requiring wireless carriers to deliver alerts to smaller geographic areas.

The NPRM adopted in PS docket 15-91 at today’s monthly meeting follows up on a report approved in December 2014 by the FCC’s Communications, Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) (TRDaily, Dec. 3, 2014).

A CSRIC working group that prepared the report recommended that the FCC modify its WEA rules to increase the number of characters that can be displayed in WEAs from 90 to 280 and to allow carriers to transmit alerts that originators have geo-targeted. Among other things, the report also recommended additional training for alert originators and development and testing for enhanced WEA deployment.

However, industry representatives expressed concern with some improvements, including providing graphical information in alerts. The report recommended a feasibility study on graphical enhancements and geographic targeting.

Comments are due 30 days after “Federal Register” publication, and replies are due 60 days after that.

The NPRM adopted today proposes to increase the length of WEA messages from 90 to 360 characters, permit alerts to include embedded phone numbers and URLs, establish a new class of emergency government information alerts to enable public safety advisories such as “boil water” recommendations or shelter locations in emergencies, require carriers to deliver alerts to smaller geographic areas that are more relevant to the public, and facilitate WEA service testing by state and local authorities and personnel training. Continue reading

Poth: FirstNet Welcomes All Partnerships

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is interested in all proposals for partnerships with the private sector, including any that would involve TV and radio broadcasters that could help provide resources in rural areas where public safety and wireless carriers might not have assets, FirstNet Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth said on November 18.

Mr. Poth spoke at the Smart Spectrum Summit, where an audience member asked if there would be opportunities for TV and radio broadcasters to partner with FirstNet. He replied that FirstNet wants to encourage a variety of proposals for constructing the network, including from players such as carriers, TV stations, and “disruptive bidders.” “We’re asking industry to tell us what’s the best approach,” he said.

“We’ve asked industry to partner with FirstNet to solve this problem, but we’re not trying to tell them how to do it, which is sometimes unusual in the federal government,” he also said at the event. Mr. Poth noted that FirstNet has posted the names of companies that are interested in partnering with other entities. – Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

Reducing Line of Duty Officer Deaths

Every year, law enforcement leaders do all that they can to reduce the line of duty deaths.  There is a very concentrated effort to bring this number below 100, a number not the seen since 1943.  In 1974, the all-time high year for officer deaths, 278 were killed in the line of duty.  Through significant innovations in training, emergency medicine and vehicles, as well as the development of ballistic armor, these have all contributed to bring this number down.   On average, 150 law enforcement personnel are killed every year in the last ten years. Together, we can bring that number to below 100 (http://below100.org/).  Each year, I am committed to working with officers, trainers and supervisors to take individual and collective responsibility for the decisions and actions that contribute to officer safety.  We can do this, I know we can!

In October 2015, 7 U.S. law enforcement officers tragically died in the line-of-duty.  This number brings the total year-to-date figure to 106 officers.  The average age of those killed in the month of October was 50, with an average tour-of-duty just shy of 16 years.

Three officers were lost to gunfire: One death occurred during the pursuit and exchange of fire with a suspect; the second involved an assailant disarming the officer and using his service weapon against him; the third was the result of an attack on the officer as he was handcuffing the suspect following a traffic stop.

The IACP, in conjunction with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), recently recorded a webinar outlining the officer safety considerations for domestic violence response calls. It addresses officer vigilance, preparation and on-scene tactical strategies for officers, and stresses the overall importance of utilizing de-escalation practices to ensure the safety of all parties. It can be viewed here.

Three officers also tragically died in automobile crashes. The IACP continues to emphasize that commanders and supervisors stress the importance of slowing down, make distracted driving a priority, and promote mandatory seatbelt wear.

Finally, the IACP continues to stress the overall importance of fitness, nutrition, and routine medical screenings as key components of overall officer wellness and lifestyle. IACP’s Center for Officer Safety and Wellness website has an array of resources covering these topics. To request hard copies of any of the resources or to provide us with innovative officer safety-related practices that your department is employing, please contact officersafety@theiacp.org.

About ODMP: The Officer Down Memorial Page is a non-profit agency dedicated to honoring the memory of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.  The largest law enforcement memorial in the United States, ODMP pays tribute to over 22,000 fallen law enforcement officers in its online memorial and reflection pages.  ODMP also honors fallen K9 officers, provides support to survivors through a benefits database, and works to keep cop killers behind bars through its No Parole program. The ODMP database tracks LODD statistics in the US back to 1791, enabling the law enforcement community to analyze trends and patterns in order to work toward the goal of improving officer safety.

Courtesy Eddie Reyes, IACP



Space Station Spectrum Test Bed Highlighted

A blog posting from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and NASA today highlighted the benefits of a spectrum test bed aboard the International Space Station. The Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Testbed “has been installed on the ISS to research new ways to use radio spectrum more efficiently. This system, developed under the Communications, Navigation, and Networking Configurable Testbed (CoNNeCT) project at NASA’s John Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, is being used to test the capabilities of software defined radios (SDR),” according to the blog posting.

“NASA is partnering with other government agencies, industry, and academia to use the SCaN Testbed as a unique space-based platform to test new radio communication techniques and protocols. Since being installed on the ISS in 2012, more than 2,600 hours of experiments have been conducted testing a total of 149 individual communication protocols. Some of the early results of these real-world tests have already been used to determine the types of communications technologies that can be utilized across NASA’s wide range of missions. In the future, spacecraft employing SDR radios will be able to be reconfigured with the latest and most efficient technologies that will allow them to adapt to disruptions and to more effectively share the same spectrum.”

Courtesy TRDaily

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, November 21, 2015

The big news for the week has to be the continued crumbling of LA-RICS. According to an article in Urgent Communications. ) LA City opted out of the LA-RICs consortium by a vote of 12-0. The immediate impact to LA-RICS and to Motorola is the loss of the City of LA for the construction of the new LA-RICS LMR radio system. The City says that they can save money by enhancing their own existing LMR system instead of spending money with LA-RICS.

In an area which makes heavy use of the T-Band (unused TV-Channels in the UHF TV band), and has issues with the number of 700 MHz LMR channels which can be used due to issues with Mexico, it does not appear that those who made the decision had reviewed and understood all of the implications of such a move. It also leaves in doubt the future of the LA-RICS FirstNet broadband system too. It is unfortunate but the LA area has a very poor track record in being able to centralize any type of public safety communications systems.

LA-RICS, of course, has been plagued with miss-steps. Not too long ago LA-RICS had a major problem with the fire fighters and their Union when they basically just started showing up at fire stations to install 70 foot towers to be used for the FirstNet LTE system. The fire fighters said that they feared being radiated by the LTE signals and in many cases they enlisted the assistance of the neighbors surrounding the fire stations. LA-RICS had to scale back the 225 planned towers to somewhere around 70 at the moment, which of course will provide much less coverage than any of the commercial operators now have in that area. LA-RICS did not do the type of outreach that wireless providers know that they have to do in order to minimize the complaints when applying for a permit for a single new tower, let alone 225. Surprising people by showing up to dig a hole and plant a tower next to a fire station is never going to result in a successful conclusion. This is not the first time that the LA area has tried to provide consolidated communications systems, all of which failed over the years for the same reason, politics.

When I was working for Motorola in LA in the late 70s and early 80s we were involved with the LA County Sheriff’s department and others to pioneer the use of the UHF TV channels in the area that were not being used for TV. The idea was to obtain two channels (each of which is 6 MHz worth of spectrum) , one for the City and one for the County. We suggested a different approach which was to use one TV channel for both City and County Fire and one channel for City Police and the Sheriff’s channels so that the city and county would have full interoperability at least between like agencies. The idea was rejected by both the City and the County, again for purely political reasons, and the City ended up with one UHF Channel for both Fire and Police and the County another for its sheriff and fire communications. Those were the days before wide-band capable radios so they could not interoperate across both TV channels and they ended up with two systems with no interoperability capabilities.

It is a shame that the growth of interoperable communications for public safety is oftentimes not a casualty of the technology but rather of the people who should be working together for the good of the public safety community. Some of these people are politicians who don’t fully understand the meaning of the decisions that are voting for but some of them are leaders in their own public safety community who for whatever reason don’t trust people wearing different types of uniforms. FirstNet would never have happened except for the formation of the Public Safety Alliance (PSA). This was a unique (unfortunately) organization made up of law enforcement brass, fire brass, and ems brass. They banded together for a common cause to convince those in DC that the D block was needed by Public Safety. Time after time I had the privilege of attending meetings with top elected officials along with Police, Sheriff, Fire and EMS personnel in full uniform. This unified approach resulted in FirstNet and the PSA is no more but Safecom, NPSTC, and APCO are organizations where all of the agencies should be working together closer than they are. I have to wonder what would have been the outcome in LA if those involved worked as well together as the PSA did in DC ? Have a great week-end and a Happy and quiet Thanksgiving next week! Andy Continue reading

Civil Rights Organization Grades 25 Police Departments on Body Camera Policies

Thursday, November 12, 2015, Mission Critical Magazine

By Danny Ramey, Assistant Editor

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Upturn released a scorecard grading the body-worn camera policies of 25 police departments that have adopted the cameras. The scorecard looks at the 15 largest police departments that have equipped the cameras and 10 other departments that were selected for a variety of reasons including whether they received Department of Justice (DOJ) funding for the cameras and if the department had been in the spotlight for recent events or incidents.

The group graded the departments’ policies on eight areas that it had previously identified as principles it finds important for the use of body-worn cameras. Read more here:  http://mccmag.com/News/NewsDetails/newsID/13641



Ensuring Our Communities Have Technologies for Disaster Response

Radiological incidents such as Chernobyl and Fukushima illustrate the need for effective coordination of federal, state, and local agencies in response efforts. As part of our Nation’s efforts, earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) demonstrated new technology developments at the Columbus, Ohio, Battelle Memorial Institute facility that will enable more effective radiological decontamination.

This demonstration was made possible through a partnership between NUSTL and EPA to research methods, best practices, and technologies for containing contamination and mitigating the hazard of radiation.

“It is vital for first responder agencies to understand the cleanup options available for events of all sizes,” explained NUSTL Radiological/Nuclear Response and Recovery (RNRR) Division Director Ben Stevenson. “When supporting local agencies and first responders for radiological response and recovery, it is important that S&T provide them with good scientific guidance and technology, but equally important that we connect them to experts and specialized federal assets that can support their operations and decision-making during an emergency.”

Interested in learning more? Read the full Snapshot Story. Do you have any questions about the publication? Please e-mail st.snapshots@hq.dhs.gov.