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HomeNewsArchivesFederal Grant of $850,000 Will Help Territory Improve Emergency Communications

Federal Grant of $850,000 Will Help Territory Improve Emergency Communications

July 20, 2007 — The territory will receive $856,907 in grants under the federal Public Safety Interoperable Communications program, Delegate Donna M. Christensen said in a news release.
The program will essentially improve radio and data communications between various public-safety agencies. The grant, approved this week by the U.S. Congress, provides for the acquisition, deployment and training of interoperable communications systems.
"First responders will be able to communicate with each other," said Christensen aide Brian Modeste.
Christensen said she was proud that the Virgin Islands is slated to receive its fair share of the funding.
"It is my hope that our emergency-response officials will use this money judiciously to purchase equipment, conduct training and exercises and develop effective interoperable communications plans," Christensen said.
One of the criticisms of the emergency response after the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks was the inability of first responders to communicate with each other. In response, Congress authorized $1 billion to establish the program as a one-time, formula-based, matching-grant program in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.
The money will go to the V.I. Police Department, said Steve Parris, acting director at the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency. Police Department spokeswoman Monyka Johnigan did not return phone calls requesting comment.
While the territory's emergency-response agencies still face challenges in communicating, things have improved, Parris said.
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