State and Local Law Enforcement Wireless Communications and Interoperability: A Quantitative Analysis   [open pdf - 641KB]

This 1997 NIJ-sponsored study, conducted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, focuses on interoperability issues in the law enforcement community. It is based on a mail survey of the interoperability experiences and needs of law enforcement agencies across the Nation. Four basic questions drove the research: What are the current and planned telecommunications capabilities of State and local law enforcement agencies? What is the knowledge and training level of State and local law enforcement agencies related to telecommunication technologies, information sources, and interoperability policies or issues? What is the nature and extent of law enforcement agencies' past and current interoperability experience and requirements? What is the nature and extent of interoperability shortfalls experienced by law enforcement agencies? This study confirmed much of what has been generally believed about police use of wireless communications equipment and interoperability. It also revealed some surprises. Fragmented spectrum and funding were identified as serious interoperability obstacles, and problems with channel congestion and outdated equipment were quantified. The study revealed trends related to the shift from analog to digital systems, high VHF to 800 MHz, and increasing use of spectrum for data transmissions related to the use of MDTs and laptop computers. Surprises include the extent to which agencies already have channels dedicated for interoperability, their general level of confidence in handling routine local interoperability events, and the relatively modest requests for additional channels. Non routine events remain a challenge for most agencies. Willingness to adopt interoperability standards is linked to funding issues.

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