Lawmakers want probe of first responders radios at Navy Yard

Sept. 23, 2013 at 3:08 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Two U.S. House members Monday called for an investigation into reports first responders' radios didn't work during the Washington Navy Yard massacre.

In a letter to the heads of the Federal Communications Commission and the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Reps. Henry Waxman and Anna Eshoo, both D-Calif., said "it is imperative" to determine what problems occurred with the communications system and why, The Hill reported.

Waxman and Eshoo also said officials at the two agencies need to ensure FirstNet, a $7 billion nationwide wireless network for emergency personnel that is in the design stage, doesn't wind up with the same issues.

The Hill reported last week numerous firefighters and police officers who responded to the shooting spree couldn't communicate using their radios. The Washington publication said some equipment became useless as officers ventured into the building, with at least one officer turning to his cellphone to communicate.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., also expressed concern about the radio problems, calling them "another reminder that we've got to modernize the way our first responders communicate."

"Once launched, the communications network FirstNet is building will support federal, state and local first responders so they can communicate seamlessly across an interoperable broadband network," Rockefeller said in a statement.

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