Public Safety & Emergency Communications

Public safety agencies from across multiple disciplines (police, fire, emergency management, highway patrol) and jurisdictions (city, county, regional, state) share common missions, starting with the goal of ensuring citizen safety. When we call 9-1-1 to report that our neighbor’s house is on fire, most of us can be assured that help will arrive in a timely and organized fashion.

But what happens when the emergency isn’t so routine? What if the emergency is a large-scale natural disaster like a hurricane or man-made disaster like a train derailment? Large-scale events bring with them challenges that can strain public safety agencies across disciplines and jurisdictions. Learn more

Our Courses

Instructor-Led Training
  • Governance
  • Standard Operating Procedure and Communications Support
  • Communications Training and Support
  • Communications Exercise and Operational Support
  • Tactical Communications Enhancement Support
  • Tribal Nation
Public Safety & Emergency Communications

Our nation learned many lessons from the tragic events of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. One of the hardest lessons from 9/11 was the fact that many of our emergency responders did not have the capability to communicate with each other when they needed it most. And Hurricane Katrina showed us how a powerful storm can wreak havoc on our communications infrastructure, disabling many of the services that our public safety system depends upon. 

In the years since, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, through its Office of Emergency Communications (OEC), has led the way to resolve these issues. It has made inroads via targeted investment and training. Thousands of emergency responders are now trained in incident command. Formal governance structures that establish guidelines and principles for interoperability planning are now in place. Public safety communications management is elevated to its highest level yet. 

SEARCH played a major role in this progress. We helped develop the curriculum used in much of this training and we teach many of the courses today. We help public safety agencies work together to establish governance plans to help manage workflow. We help them identify gaps within their organizations and advise them on how to address those gaps. 

Our staff has experience as practitioners across all of the emergency communications disciplines. We have managed communications centers, implemented radio-CAD-Mobile Data systems, directed large interoperability projects and worked in the 9-1-1 field. We sit on a supporting committee for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network. 

We can help you with your public safety and emergency communications challenges, whether you’re an emergency responder, a government official, or a service organization. We have the expertise to help with the planning, operations, technical issues, and policy decisions that come with interoperable communications initiatives. 

Check out our helpful publications or training offerings, or request assistance with your public safety/emergency communications interoperability needs.

Karen Lissy

Ms. Karen Lissy is a Justice Information Services Specialist for the Law and Policy Program of SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. In this position, she provides assistance to state and local justice and public safety agencies to collect, curate, and use National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data and computerized criminal history record (CCH/CHRI) information for policy analysis and development.

She also guides justice and related organizations in how to craft and implement laws, policies, practices, and technology applications to effectively collect and use CCH and related justice/public safety data; address legal, policy, and regulatory issues associated with CCH data; better manage and operate criminal justice information and identification systems; and develop security and privacy policies that protect justice information sharing systems.

Ms. Lissy has nearly two decades of research and data analysis experience, having led projects and tasks in support of two agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (the Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Institute of Justice), as well as the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and multiple foundations, including Ford, Annie E. Casey, and Hewlett. Prior to joining SEARCH in October 2020, Ms. Lissy served as a Social Science Researcher at RTI International, as a regional Crime Analyst for the Redmond (WA) Police Department, and as Director of a research program with the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Beginning in 2012, Ms. Lissy’s work has focused on improving data in law enforcement to answer policy questions and improve community/police relations.

Ms. Lissy earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University, and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Michael Mackay

Mr. Michael Mackay is an Information Sharing Developer for SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. As part of the Software and Data Engineering Program (SDEP) team, he plans, develops, implements, and deploys information sharing systems on behalf of SEARCH clients in local, state, tribal, and Federal government settings. He also provides programming, configuration, and testing assistance, and consults on implementation architecture and design with clients. 

Mr. Mackay supports justice, public safety, and homeland security information sharing nationwide through SDEP services that include software architecture and systems design, application development, deployment and support, data management services, and direct technical assistance and training. These services offer capabilities that include federated query, authentication access/control, subscription/notification, process/workflow automation, data analysis, and more. 

Prior to joining SEARCH in 2021, Mr. Mackay worked as a Software Engineering Intern for TDM Business Toole Suite, where he provided software development support using Java frameworks, implemented relational database models using MySQL, and designed GUI components using NetBeans. 

Mr. Mackay will work in an Agile development environment, a methodology that SEARCH embraces that focuses on incremental development and delivery, collaboration in a team approach, and rapid and flexible response to change throughout the development cycle. 

Mr. Mackay earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics and Statistics from Stony Brook University, New York.