NYPD pushes Congress to keep open airwaves free in case of Sept. 11-like national emergencies
WASHINGTON - Cops warned Congress Friday to reserve enough radio spectrum for first responders - or risk lives in the event of another 9/11-style attack.
NYPD communications chief Charles Dowd joined brass from around the country on Capitol Hill to push for reform before the 10th anniversary of the attacks, when overwhelmed radio networks failed at the World Trade Center.
Chief Christopher Moore of the San Jose, Calif., Police Department told a House panel that selling all unused airwaves to industry "will put the public's safety at risk and will considerably limit our first responders' ability to do their jobs."
The 2009 switch to digital TV freed up large bands of the radio spectrum. Responders want to use part of it for a national broadband network to carry real-time voice, video and data that would save time and lives in crises.
Conservative Republicans want to auction off all of the spectrum to wireless providers with incentives to build networks serving first responders.
Democrats and Republican moderates, like Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.), want to reserve a block of spectrum for first responders and only auction the rest.
"I think we're encouraged that at least there's some good common ground between the Republicans and Democrats," Dowd said.