More than 400 law enforcement and emergency agencies in the Charlotte, N.C., area will be able to communicate with each other better during disasters starting next year. The U.S. Justice Department awarded the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department $6 million to purchase new equipment that will make radio transmission possible among agencies in 11 counties. The city of Charlotte added $2 million as a matching grant, said Paul Paskoff, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police’s director of research and analysis. The money will allow the counties to buy digital microwave equipment and repeaters. Currently emergency agencies between counties — and sometimes within them — can’t communicate with other agencies because they have incompatible radio transmissions.
In April 2001, President Bush visited the region and traveled to more than one county, and local law enforcement agents couldn’t communicate with each other to coordinate his security. Last year, the Charlotte Fire Department assisted other counties 14 times with hazardous materials but couldn’t communicate with the agencies it was trying to help. “Disasters do not end at county lines,” Charlotte Fire Chief Luther Fincher said, “and therefore it is essential that regional jurisdictions and responders are able to communicate critical information in a timely manner.”