Houston Lobbying for Safety Upgrades

Houston is lobbying the federal government to get a large chunk of money to help pay for updated radios for first responders. The goverment has allocated $1 billion to upgrade radio systems across the country and as Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, Houston is among hte top candidates for funding.

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The FCC expanded the number of radio frequencies that are available for use to local governments. When that expansion took place, the federal government designated $1 billion to help municipalities pay for the necessary equipment upgrades. Houston Mayor Bill White says he thinks the money should be allocated based on the risk level of the city.

"What we advocate would result in something like $80-90 million for Texas with $30-40 million to the city with the highest threat risk -- Houston."

White says in the past, Houston would get a much smaller portion -- about $1 million for every $50 million allocated to Texas. Councilmember Toni Lawrence asked city officials to make sure whatever amount Houston gets, it's used to make sure all of the region's first responders have interoperability.

"We're not just talking about HPD. We're talking about Metro and the airport police officers and the various law enforcement groups within our municipality. And then you go out and heaven forbid something to happen, that we've got to have that communication."

The mayor told councilmembers the federal government will announce the allocations within the next few weeks and recommended they contact the Houston congressional delegation before the final decision is made. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...