PSA celebrates broadband-network victory
BROOMFIELD, COLO. — In a room filled with smiles, plaudits and good-natured ribbing, many key members of the public-safety community last night celebrated its unlikely political victory that resulted a new law that secured the 700 MHz D Block spectrum for first responders and $7 billion in funding to help pay for a nationwide broadband network.
Hosted by the Public Safety Alliance on the eve of the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) meeting, PSA officials reflected on the varied support needed to make the much-anticipated broadband legislation a reality.
"When we first started this endeavor, they told us that it couldn't be done," said PSA spokesman Chris Moore, police chief in San Jose, Calif. "Public safety was told, 'You will not get the D Block, and forget about funding.'
"Everybody came together, because it was the right thing to do, and it was the right time — not only for public safety but for the American public. We're not a special interest; we're here to protect the American public. And that's what we're were able to do, with everybody in this room coming together."
Former International Association of Fire Chiefs President Jeff Johnson echoed this sentiment.
"Nothing in my 32 years of service … is greater that what we've achieved here tonight. Nothing will change the business more than this. I hope you all will take a moment to take satisfaction in what you have done."
Moore expressed public safety's appreciation for the support it received from key lawmakers like Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). Similar plaudits were given to President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden — a key figure in this episode, according to many sources — and others in the current administration.
"For the first time ever, public safety came together on an issue and stayed united for over three years. For the first time in my memory, the federal agencies that are responsible for public safety — the DOJ, DHS and Commerce — came together. Anna Gomez [deputy assistant secretary for communications and information?and?deputy administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration] thanks for bringing everyone together and making that happen."
Moore also acknowledged the support from key industry players — most notably, Verizon, AT&T, Motorola and Harris — that provided key funding and support for public safety on Capitol Hill. All of the key public-safety organizations were applauded for their efforts, particularly the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO).
"It's tough enough just to get public safety all in a room," Moore said. "It's even harder to try to get us to agree on anything. Like Jeff Johnson said, 'It's like cats and dogs sleeping together. It's not natural.' But it happened."
Six critical players — Johnson, former APCO president Richard Mirgon, New York City Police Department Deputy Chief Charles Dowd, Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) Chairman Harlin McEwen, Seattle Chief Technology OfficerBill Schrier, and mobile wireless consultant Andrew Seybold — were singled out for their significant contributions during the lengthy process by Moore. To conclude the event, Johnson credited Moore for his role in helping to develop consensus throughout the public-safety community on this issue.
"This room is filled with different opinions, and this issue is filled with different perspectives. If we did not have a leader that understood how to balance it all, … we would have failed," he said.
"As much as it pains me — as a firefighter — to admit that a cop was the guy who brought people together, I'm asking you for one moment of your attention to recognize the leadership of Chris Moore. The guy is spectacular … he is awesome."