Waxman legislation funds public safety network via D-Block auction

The Public Safety Alliance, a coalition of safety associations, launched a public relations campaign earlier this month to stop the proposed D-Block auction, contending that the plan is "technically, competitively and operationally flawed."

Meanwhile, Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), the ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, has introduced legislation to stop the auction. King has 20 co-sponsors and is seeking a way to bring companion legislation to the Senate.

Calling the D-Block "ideal" for a public safety network, King said such a network is needed during "large-scale emergencies, such as a terrorist attack."

Opposing a D-Block auction, New York Police Department Deputy Chief Charles Dowd said that sudden emergencies can cause commercial networks to become overloaded when hundreds of police and firemen within a small radius get on their radios at once. "And I get yelled at by the command staff that they can't pick up their cell phone calls," he said.

He also cited interoperability as a concern, noting that when New York City's police officers traveled south to assist in efforts during Hurricane Katrina, they had to bring radios to pass out to officers all over the area to streamline communication.

"You don't want to be in that situation," he said. "You want to be in a situation where your device works on whatever network you're on."