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Wireless networking gets funding

JACKSON — A $19.4-million grant has been awarded to the Mississippi Wireless Communication Commission to help build the Mississippi Wireless Integrated Network, an interoperable wireless network for first responders.

The grant was presented by the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

The funding will be used to help purchase equipment and build a network that will allow state and local first responders to communicate seamlessly during time of crisis. The grant is part of a federal program being administered by the United States Department of Homeland Security. The program is intended to improve emergency management and preparedness capabilities at the state, local and community levels as part of a comprehensive national emergency management system.

“Homeland security begins with hometown security, and interoperable communications between law enforcement and first responders in town and cities across our state is critical. This was a lesson learned during Hurricane Katrina,” said J.W. Ledbetter, Director of the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security. “These funds are used to enhance and improve our readiness for responding to a wide variety of threats and crises.”

Ledbetter said the United States Department of Homeland Security has directed state Homeland Security affiliates to use the funding to enhance existing capabilities within individual states for responding to acts of domestic and international terrorism, use of weapons of mass destruction as well as any natural disasters.

The grant program is part of a federal plan for ‘All-Hazard’ response planning, beginning at local levels. The aim is to improve response capabilities for catastrophic natural disasters, potential for weapons of mass destruction, acts of terrorism, and chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear/explosive incidents. The initiative also improves local response capabilities for traffic accidents, fires and other emergencies.

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