Union, justice, confidence
Louisiana’s state motto is well reflected in Chief Duane D. Johnson’s attitude toward interoperability and New Orleans’ preparation for homeland security.
The assistant superintendent and deputy chief (who is chief of operations) at the New Orleans Police Department said that “the ability to communicate is critical to response.” And public safety agencies in his state seem to be able to communicate.
New Orleans’ location presents special challenges to interoperability with its proximity to the Gulf, intracoastal canal and Mississippi River. “The challenge there is the Coast Guard and the water response units, and Harbor Police,” Johnson said.
Port security is crucial. “Potential targets, which include chemical plants and key waterways, have increased awareness of why public safety agencies need to communicate through radio,” Johnson said.
New Orleans already has established a level of interoperability with the state through “a patch on two frequencies. They have Motorola Astro and we have EDACS, and people have been told the two can’t operate,” Johnson said. “We established console patches with radios and then went hard patch with phone lines.”
Johnson encouraged agencies to try to establish “hard line patches” on a regular basis or a console patch with radio in each agency, so when they need to move to an operations channel, they can.
“We think that will be the case with the Coast Guard. The state police has state-of-the-art, but each local agency has its own. With the Coast Guard operating from Baton Rouge along the shipping corridor and Gulf of Mexico, the advantage of having the state police linked to maritime and the private sector for oil spills — and having a connection through our patch — will prove effective.”