Bill helps first responders

Congress is considering legislation that would help first responders take advantage of the military's advanced technologies.

A provision in the Defense Authorization Bill, pending before Congress, would require appointment of a senior defense official to transfer technology to state and local police, fire departments, emergency medical services and other first responders, according to Pete Verga, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for homeland defense.

The appointee will likely be Paul McHale, first assistant secretary of Defense for homeland defense, Verga said.

The provision ensures that commercially developed technologies, such as night goggles and thermal imagers, are made available to police and fire departments, although the provision does not provide funding to help first responders buy the technologies, he said. Instead the Homeland Security Department's Office of Emergency Preparedness will offer grants to help fund the transfers.


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