A key post-Sept. 11 security priority is on the federal budget chopping block: hand-held radios that allow officers from different law enforcement agencies to talk to each other, reports the Washington Times. House and Senate spending plans would slash up to $100 million for the Justice Department’s Integrated Wireless Network (IWN), which would replace the mis-matched radios that were in use during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. “The quality of the radios they have now is horrible,” said James Craig, former chief information officer for the Drug Enforcement Administration, of the often incompatible radio systems still being used by the FBI, DEA and U.S. Marshals Service. “There’s a potential for agents to be hurt or killed” because of the limitations of these systems, some of which are almost 20 years old, he said.
Outside of the Washington, D.C., area, where IWN came on line last year, the plan is set to become a victim of bipartisan efforts to tackle the spiraling deficit by cutting government spending in the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. “The agencies finally got together and have a plan, and everybody’s on the same page … and now the rug’s been pulled away,” Craig said of the proposed cuts.