Feds Suspend Funding for Problem-Plagued L.A. County Emergency System

The federal government has halted $154 million in funding for a Los Angeles County emergency communications systems that will connect first responders quickly in the event of a crisis.

LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Commerce Department has suspended $154 million in funding for a troubled Los Angeles County emergency system, which authorities have called “severely behind schedule.”

The federal government urged authorities to build emergency communications systems that would allow separate agencies to work together quickly and efficiently following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The government also offered grants to help pay for the systems.

Los Angeles County officials envisioned the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System Authority (LA-RICS) project as a way for every police officer and firefighter in the county to communicate during major emergencies, such as an earthquake or terrorist attack, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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If completed, the project would be the largest emergency communications system in the nation.

The $154 million federal grant was to pay for 80% of the work on the data system, with the county and cities paying the remainder. Additionally, officials planned to create a separate radio communications system, which would be paid for by cities who joined in the project.

However, several cities dropped out of the project, resulting in those remaining to shoulder a larger share of the costs. Additionally, firefighters and residents questioned the construction of cell towers at neighborhood fire stations and other areas, and only 15 of some 200 planned communications towers have been built, CBS Los Angeles reports.

This prompted the U.S. Commerce Department to take action.

The department has given L.A. County officials have until April 13 to submit an amended project plan to keep LA-RICS on track. Officials said they will meet the deadline.

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