Unless police, firefighters and other emergency responders end turf wars and talk to each other during disasters, billions of dollars spent on high-tech communication systems will go to waste, says Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said, the Associated Press reports. Chertoff said the value of the technology provided through federal grants has been diminished by local and state disagreements over control of the equipment. Chertoff said his department has provided $2.1 billion over three years to buy the equipment and train emergency responders to use it. “I’ve actually seen this stuff work,” he told a communications conference.
Police and fire officials said those funds only scratch the surface of what’s needed nationwide. “The price tag to get them all to interoperability – down at the line level where a cop can talk to EMS directly – is going to be vastly more expensive,” said Joseph G. Estey, police chief in Hartford, Vt., and past president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.