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10 years after 9/11: When will D-Block be done?

Communications is still a major issue for public safety and D-Block allocation remains undone

At 0700 hours today, I was 48 floors above Ground Zero, peering down into the construction site and 9/11 Memorial and saying a silent prayer for the heroes we lost that dreadful day in September. I had sincerely hoped that legislation on the D-Block would have been passed before the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, but truly in my heart I was unconvinced it would happen. I was born in New York, so I was born cynical, but it is more than that. We’ve watched the partisan bickering in Washington over matters both big and small, and we’ve seen how gamesmanship has gummed up the gears of the governmental machinery.

To be sure, there have been great strides made, such as last year when Senator Jay Rockefeller, who serves as Senate Commerce Committee Chairman, introduced a bill that would allocate the D-Block to public safety and provide adequate funding to make that a nationwide mobile broadband public safety network. Sure, it failed, but undaunted he reintroduced landmark piece of legislation — dubbed S.911: Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act of 2011 — early this year, now with the strong support of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, ranking Republican member of the Commerce Committee.

As is usually the case in Washington, things have been a little bit messier on the House side of the Capitol building. Even still, there have been some seriously strong advocates on behalf of public safety, and because of their efforts HR 607 is gaining momentum. I continually am impressed by the work of both Congressman Henry Waxman on the Democratic side of the aisle and Congressman Peter King on the Republican side. There are many others in our cadre, but those two individuals seem to me to really be leading the charge on behalf of cops.

An Optimistic Fututure
Writing from a café on Manhattan’s West Side only days before that somber date, it appears that the anniversary will come and go with our law enforcers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians facing similar problems that cost the lives of our first responders at Ground Zero. My hope is that the passing of this milestone will only act to strengthen the resolve of the men and women out there like me who have championed allocation of the D-Block to public safety.

And to that end, I remain optimistic (okay, cautiously optimistic) that this will get done before the end of the year. I think this is an opinion shared by my friend Chuck Dowd, Deputy Chief of NYPD, who also happens to be in Washington DC at the moment I write this, almost certainly working with Congressional and Senate staffers to move forward on the issue. In fact, Chief Dowd was just on Fox News talking about this issue.

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