An ambitious plan to connect all of Los Angeles County's fire and police agencies on a single communications system has hit another potential setback with the loss of $11 million in federal grant funding administered by the city of Los Angeles, reports the Los Angeles Times.
County officials and the head of the regional agency overseeing the project say the funding loss will further delay the creation of a multi-jurisdictional radio system for emergency responders, which they had hoped to have up and running by 2017. The plan to build a countywide mobile radio and broadband system has run into repeated setbacks, including problems with contracts and pushback by residents concerned about radio towers.
The five county supervisors sent a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Herb Wesson last week objecting to the $11-million shift in federal funding. County officials said Garcetti recommended to the authority that allocates the grant funds that the money be shifted to another local communications project.
"Your recent actions are negatively impacting … the overall success of this important regional public safety project," the supervisors wrote. The loss of the grant money, they wrote, created an "unplanned funding gap" in the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System, and put the county "in a financial position that we find objectionable."
The city's chief administrative officer, Miguel Santana, said the shift in funds "wasn't intended to shortchange anyone" and that the money might be restored in the future.
But over the last year, a number of cities — including, most recently, the city of Los Angeles — have dropped out of the system, citing cost concerns, and leaving the county and other remaining cities on the hook for a larger share of whatever costs are not covered by grants. The city of Los Angeles plans to build its own stand-alone radio system that will be compatible with the regional system.