Chiefs granted clearances

The Justice Department will let police chiefs from cities, counties and other municipalities apply for national security clearances that would put them in the information-sharing loop during national emergencies.

Barry McDevitt, chief of police for the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority, said Attorney General John Ashcroft made the decision because many police chiefs had difficulty getting information after terrorists struck Sept. 11.

Sharing information and using information technology to improve intergovernmental relationships has been at the center of many homeland security debates. One of the biggest barriers to communication is the number of disparate databases used at the federal, state and local levels, said Mary Schiavo, a former Transportation Department inspector general and now a partner in a Washington law firm.

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