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 Federal Legislation & Regulation
FCC’s proposed rule would let railroad police use public safety radio


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released a notice of a proposed rule change that would permit railroad police to access radio airwaves currently reserved for public safety agency officials.

On Tuesday, the commission published a notice of the proposed rule, which would permit railroad police officers to use public safety interoperability and mutual aid channels to communicate with public safety agencies that already use the particular band segments.

“We believe that allowing railroad police officers to use these channels will promote interoperability and facilitate improved emergency response in railroad-related emergencies and eliminate unnecessary regulatory barriers to use of these channels,” the FCC stated in the introduction to proposed rule-making.

The rule change was requested by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) and Amtrak.

The NPSTC petitioned for the rule change in 2014. In response, several entities have expressed support for the rule change, including the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration, Association of American Railroads and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

Also, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in May urged the FCC to allow Amtrak police to access first-responder radio frequency.

“It makes absolutely no sense why Amtrak police officers, who help protect the nation’s busiest transportation hubs and tens of thousands of passengers and commuters each day in New York City, do not have direct access to the first responder radio frequency in the event of an emergency,” Schumer said in a prepared statement issued in May.