(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has included $500,000 in a spending bill to help Spokane-area law enforcement agencies build on their efforts to share information and fight crime as a region.  The funding can be used to buy new crime-tracking technology and services that will enable the agencies to better share intelligence and other law-enforcement information and expand a regional wireless system.

As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray included the funding in the 2009 Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations portion of the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which provides funding for most federal government programs and targeted community projects for Fiscal Year 2009.  The Omnibus bill is separate from the Economic Recovery bill passed by Congress and enacted by President Obama last week.

“This funding is crucial for the safety of everyone in the Spokane area,” Senator Murray said.  “All law enforcement officers across the area should be able to share information about suspects and communicate while they’re on the beat.  Spokane has done a first-rate job of building a regional information hub that allows officers to share maps, photos, and crime-tracking data in real time.  This funding will help them expand the network and bring more departments online – and that will make everyone in the region safer.”

The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill will fund projects for the remainder of the 2009 Fiscal Year which runs until September 30th, 2009.  The federal government is currently operating under spending levels passed for Fiscal Year 2008 because President Bush refused to sign many 2009 spending bills last year and Congress was forced to pass a continuing resolution.  The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill was unveiled today and is expected to be passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in the coming weeks.

Spokane will be able to use the funding Senator Murray included in the Omnibus bill for the following:

Mobile Data Computers – To replace aging systems with enhanced mobile data computers that have state-of-the-art digital and video capability.

Regional Wireless System Expansion – To expand the regional wireless network so that more officers in the field can access data via high-speed wireless connections.  This will allow transmission of graphical data such as photos, reports, and maps.

Intelligence/Information Sharing – Spokane is the regional hub for public safety intelligence and information sharing serving Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho, and Western Montana, and it is the site of the Inland Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force.  Given the need for intelligence and information sharing, 11 law enforcement agencies in the region have formed a consortium called ARREST, led by the Spokane Police Department.  This funding will support the Spokane Police Department’s efforts to make this information available to a greater number of law enforcement agencies.  These agencies include the Spokane Police Department, Cheney Police Department, Medical Lake Police Department, Airway Heights Police Department, Liberty Lake Police Department, Post Falls Police Department, Coeur d’Alene Police Department, Kootenai County Sheriff, Bonner County Sheriff, Sandpoint Police Department, and the Spokane County Sheriff.