LA County receives $154M communications grant

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Los Angeles County wants to build a state-of-the-art public safety communications system to link the region's many police, fire and other emergency agencies.

L.A. County is home to 50 law enforcement agencies and 31 fire departments.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich said their different communications systems often make it difficult for them to talk with each other during big emergencies, and that's a problem.

“Communication is the lifeline in protecting life and property," Antonavich said.

L.A. County plans to build a regional communications system that will link the region’s 34,000 police officers, firefighters and other emergency responders.

It’ll feature 300 wireless broadband sites that will provide access to the Internet, databases, and 911 call centers. It will also be capable of real time video streaming and medical telemetry.

"At long last our urban first responders will have what our military has had on foreign battlefields for years," Congresswoman Jane Harman said. Harman helped secure the federal grant.

“There will be 1,000 frequencies, and 500 channels," Sheriff Lee Baca said. "It will indeed be the finest communications system in the world.”

It’s not cheap.

The cost is as much as $700 million. With the federal grant and other money, the county’s about halfway to its fundraising goal.