If Terrorists Hit Dallas, Would First Responder Radios Be Ready?

During the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, first responders in New York City had trouble talking to each other on radios, leading to more chaos that deadly day. Afterward, federal authorities told local agencies to digitize their radio systems to enable such communications, but it's taken the better part of two decades for Dallas to catch up to the costly recommendations.But if officials in the city and county have their way, Dallas police and firefighters and county sheriff's deputies will soon be able to use their radios to instantly talk to other first responders nearby. County commissioners this week approved a $68 million contract with the city and Motorola that will upgrade the outdated radios and provide maintenance for 15 years. Because the city of Dallas needs far more radios than the county does, officials said, Dallas is paying 75 percent of the costs, while the county's share is 25 percent. The city council will vote on the deal next week. In response to the 9/11 attacks, a federal panel recommended all first responders move to a digital system called Project 25, or P25, that would allow for different departments to talk to each other on the same channel.The Motorola upgrades will bring Dallas in line with neighboring cities and make the Dallas area much safer in case of a major disaster or attack, officials told the city council Wednesday. "If there is a critical incident, we're able to switch to one channel where we're all able to communicate," said Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall. "That, in essence, creates a more safe, comfortable area for us. We can work collectively together."  Continue reading...

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