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FirstNet board member Charles Dowd reportedly will retire from NYPD

Urgent Communications
By Donny Jackson
May 19, 2014

FirstNet board member Charles Dowd reportedly has submitted paperwork to retire from the New York Police Department (NYPD), but the longtime public-safety official will continue to serve on the FirstNet board.

According to a story published by the New York Daily News, Dowd submitted his retirement paperwork earlier this month, just weeks after being transferred to the NYPD’s transit department after heading 911 operations for several years. No reasons were given when Dowd was transferred, according to the story.

Calls by IWCE’s Urgent Communications to Dowd seeking comment on the situation were not returned in time to be included in this story.

Dowd, one of the public-safety officials that led the effort to lobby Congress for the legislation that established FirstNet, was one of the original appointments to the FirstNet board in 2012. As was the case with Teri Takai—a FirstNet board member who recently resigned her post as chief information officer (CIO) for the U.S. Department of Defense—Dowd’s ability to serve on the FirstNet board is not dependent on remaining in his daytime position, according to FirstNet spokesman Corey Ray.

“Chuck Dowd remains an active members of the FirstNet board,” Ray said in an e-mail to IWCE’s Urgent Communications.

Dowd’s two-year term as a FirstNet board member will expire in August. Last year, only one board member with an expiring term was not reappointed, but there have been no announcements from FirstNet or any of its board members about potential reappointments this year.

During the past several years, Dowd has been an outspoken proponent of public safety leveraging wireless broadband communications. Dowd received criticism from many in the public-safety community when he took the position that New York City would be better served by investing its resources into broadband communications than to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade its aging LMR system in accordance with FCC narrowbanding mandate.

A potential showdown regarding the narrowbanding issue with the FCC was averted in 2012. In February, Congress passed the legislation establishing FirstNet and called for public-safety agencies like NYPD that use T-Band spectrum to vacate those airwaves in 2021. Given this directive from Congress, the FCC quickly granted a blanket narrowbanding waiver to public-safety agencies operating on T-Band frequencies.

Within the city of New York, Dowd has been scrutinized for efforts to modernize the 911 infrastructure, because the much-delayed initiative exceeded its budget by hundreds of millions of dollars and now has been suspended entirely as the matter is being investigated, according to the New York Daily News story. In addition, the publication indicates that Dowd was reprimanded in 2010 for accepting gifts from Verizon employees during the bidding for the massive 911 project in 2004

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