Thursday May 29, 2003
Saying safety and security must be the community’s top priority, Mayor Jerry Abramson today earmarked $10 million for the creation of an integrated metro-wide emergency communications and response system.
The MetroSafe Emergency Communications Network will create a communications system of all emergency response agencies in the community, including police, fire, EMS, the Health Department and local hospitals, Abramson said.
“In post-9/11 times, we are challenged not just as the nation’s 16th largest city, but as a national crossroads,” Abramson said today in his budget address to the Metro Council.
Abramson said a unified communications system is critical to ensuring that all emergency responders can communicate in the event of a community-wide crisis or on a daily basis as needed. When the city and county police departments merged in January, they had two different radio systems operating on different frequencies. In February, Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert White unveiled a short-term solution that utilizes a patch-through system allowing officers in the former city and county police departments to communicate in emergency situations.
Abramson is earmarking the $10 million for the MetroSafe Network from Louisville Metro Government’s Enhanced 911 account. The 911 account, established by state law in 1996, is collected through a 79 cents a month surcharge on telephone bills.
Abramson said the total cost of the MetroSafe system will be in the ballpark of $40 million to $50 million. The $10 million in local money, Abramson said, will be leveraged to help in obtaining additional federal dollars.
To that end, Abramson said he is working closely with Kentucky’s federal delegation – specifically Reps. Anne Northup and Hal Rogers and Sen. Jim Bunning – to secure funding for the MetroSafe system.
“It’s crucial that we take this moment of merging city and county and government to connect all the emergency response agencies – police, Louisville Fire and Rescue, our county’s 20 suburban fire districts, County EMS, emergency preparedness, our health department and local hospitals,” Abramson said. “We need a unified system – no more addressing our problems piecemeal.”