Office of Homeland Security
Governer Ernie Fletcher Announces Major First Responder Interoperability Project For Kentucky While Commemorating The Anniversary Of September 11

Press Release Date:  Friday, September 09, 2005  
Contact Information:  Jason R. Keller

FRANKFORT, Ky.: Governor Ernie Fletcher joined by U.S. Department of Homeland Security representative Dr. David Boyd and Kentucky Director of Homeland Security Alecia Webb-Edgington on the steps of the capitol today to announce Kentucky’s participation in a major First Responder communications interoperability pilot project and to commemorate the events of September 11, 2001.             

“While we remember the sacrifices of those who have laid down their lives for the cause of freedom, both here at home and abroad, we are reminded of the necessity to ensure that tragedies like the one of September 11, 2001 never happen again here in this country,” said Governor Fletcher. “On that fateful day, over 300 New York City firefighters lost their lives because they couldn’t communicate with one another and with local law enforcement. This pilot project will help us ensure that such a tragedy never occurs here in the commonwealth, whether it is due to a natural or man-made disaster.”  

The event, which included a bagpiper and the Kentucky State Police Honor Guard, was highlighted by Governor Fletcher’s announcement that Kentucky has been selected as one of only two states to take part in a pilot project to provide a statewide strategy to implement radio interoperable communications throughout the commonwealth. The project is being conducted by SAFECOM, which is managed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC). Additionally, the pilot is expected to save the state several million dollars in future funding.   

The OIC was established to serve as the office within the Department of Homeland Security to strengthen and integrate interoperability and compatibility efforts to improve local, tribal, state, and federal public safety preparedness and response.  The OIC is in the Office of Systems Engineering and Development (SED) housed within the Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate. OIC is currently addressing: Communications, Equipment, Training, and other areas as identified.   

SAFECOM, a communications program of OIC, provides guidance and assistance for local, tribal, state, and federal public safety agencies working to improve public safety response through more effective and efficient interoperable wireless communications.  SAFECOM is a public safety practitioner-driven program that works cooperatively with more than 50,000 local and state public safety agencies. 

SAFECOM has been authorized through legislation to address communications issues facing public safety. Specifically, Section 7304 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-458) directed the Secretary of Department of Homeland Security, acting through the Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate’s Office for Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC), to carry out at least two Regional Communications Interoperability Pilots (RCIP). SAFECOM is conducting the initial pilots in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the State of Nevada. The pilots will build upon the work that SAFECOM has done with other states and localities that have resulted in replicable tools. 

For the Kentucky pilot, SAFECOM will work with its state and local partner agencies to implement the following steps: 

o       Establish key relationships and gather information

o       Create a project plan and identify roles and responsibilities for project team

o       Prepare and conduct focus group interviews

o       Prepare and conduct strategic planning sessions

o       Develop a statewide communications interoperability strategic plan and

o       Create guidelines for the first 90 days of implementation 

"This pilot will be driven by the practitioner community - the men and women who use communications equipment on a daily basis.  They underscore SAFECOM's commitment to improving public safety communications by putting users in the lead," said Dr. David Boyd, the Director of the OIC.