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A Guide to Public Safety Enforcement

What We Do:

  • Resolve complaints, investigate and take or recommend enforcement action regarding radio frequency interference that involve violations of the Communications Act, the Commission's rules, a Commission order or a term or condition of a station authorization.

  • Resolve complaints, investigate and take or recommend enforcement action in cases involving violation of the Commission's 911 and Enhanced 911 ("E911") rules.

  • Resolve complaints, investigate and take or recommend enforcement action in cases involving violation of the Commission's Radio Frequency ("RF") Safety rules.

  • Investigate and take or recommend enforcement action in cases involving possible violations of the Commission's rules regarding lighting and marking of radio transmitting antenna structures.

  • Investigate and take or recommend enforcement action in cases involving possible unauthorized importation or marketing of radio frequency devices.

  • Resolve complaints, investigate and take or recommend enforcement action for violation of the Commission's cable signal leakage rules.

  • Resolve complaints, investigate and take or recommend enforcement action for violations of the Emergency Alert System ("EAS") Rules.

  • Conduct on-site inspections.

  • Adjudicate formal Section 208 complaints filed against common carriers (wireline and wireless).

What We Do Not Do:
  • Enforce rules regarding cancellation of licenses for failure to construct. The appropriate licensing bureau handles these issues.

Our Structure:
  • Spectrum Enforcement Division

    • Investigates and takes or recommends enforcement action, where appropriate, in cases involving violation of technical rules such as 911 and E911, radio frequency equipment importation or marketing, unlicensed or unauthorized operation, tower lighting and marking, RF safety, cable signal leakage and EAS.

  • 25 Field Offices

    • Conduct inspections and investigations of FCC regulated facilities.

    • Take or recommend enforcement action, where appropriate, for violation of technical rules such as radio frequency equipment importation or marketing, unlicensed or unauthorized operation, tower lighting and marking, RF Safety, cable signal leakage and EAS.

    • Resolve or assist with the resolution of interference complaints.

  • Market Disputes Resolution Division

    • Adjudicates formal Section 208 complaints against common carriers (wireline and wireless).

    • Participates in negotiations between parties to facilitate settlement of disputes before complaints are filed.

How Do I File A Complaint:
  • E911

    • Informal Information

      • Persons who do not wish to file a formal or informal complaint seeking adjudication of a dispute, but who wish to inform the Bureau of evidence that a violation of the E-911 Implementation Requirements has occurred so that the Bureau may decide to initiate an investigation, if appropriate, may contact the Spectrum Enforcement Division at (202) 418-1160 to discuss such matters.

      • While you don't need to spend a lot of time or money putting information together in advance, when you contact the staff, it does help to provide as much factual information concerning the alleged violation as possible, and to be able to substantiate your claims.

      • Documentary materials (copies of letters, e-mails, etc), or testimonial evidence in the form of sworn affidavits, is particularly helpful. It is also useful if you can identify particular provisions of the statute or the rules that you believe have been violated. The more specific you can be, the faster the Enforcement Bureau can determine if enforcement action is warranted. Keep in mind, though, that this process does not require any ultimate decision by the FCC.

    • Section 208 complaint

      • Call Us First. If you are contemplating filing a formal Section 208 complaint, we strongly encourage you to contact the staff of the Market Disputes Resolution Division at (202) 418-7330 before filing.

      • Read the Rules. Before filing a formal Section 208 complaint, carefully review the procedural rules governing Section 208 complaints. These rules are important and the staff follows them carefully and enforces them. Failure to comply with the rules can result in dismissal of a complaint. Feel free to contact the Market Disputes Resolution Division staff to discuss these procedures and ask any questions. The rules governing formal Section 208 complaints (including the procedures governing the Accelerated Docket) are found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.720-1.736 (2001). For additional information, you may want to look at the FCC's Report and Order that adopted these rules, which is published at 12 FCC Rcd 22,497 (1997) and Order on Reconsideration which is published at 16 FCC Rcd 5681 (2001). The order adopting the Accelerated Docket rule is published at 13 FCC Rcd 17,018 (1998). A filing fee is required for all formal complaints. See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1105 (2003).

      • Factual Support: If you do file a formal complaint, provide as much factual support for your case as possible. This can be in the form of sworn affidavits, documentary evidence, etc. Do not assume that you will be able to engage in lengthy discovery after you file your complaint in order to develop the facts.

      • Accelerated Docket: The Accelerated Docket is available for selected formal complaints (i.e., the complaints deemed suitable by Commission staff for resolution pursuant to the procedures of the Accelerated Docket). Because an Accelerated Docket case may lead to a "mini-trial" with testimony by witnesses subject to cross-examination, it is particularly well suited for cases involving difficult factual disputes. It is designed to lead to a written staff-level decision within 60 days from the filing of the complaint. Because the Accelerated Docket rules require staff-supervised pre-filing settlement discussions between the parties, many disputes are settled without the need to file a formal complaint. Please contact the staff if you would like to have a potential complaint considered for acceptance onto the Accelerated Docket.

  • Interference Complaints

    • Private Land Mobile Radio Service

      • The Commission has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials ("APCO") to resolve public safety-related interference complaints in the first instance. The Enforcement Bureau encourages public safety agencies experiencing interference on their private land mobile radio frequencies to submit such complaints directly to APCO in accordance with the process set forth in the Memorandum of Understanding.

    • Non-Private Land Mobile Radio Service

      • Public safety agencies that believe that they are experiencing interference from other facilities and that such interference is the result of violations of a Commission rule, order or terms of a station authorization, may submit their complaints to: Federal Communications Commission, Enforcement Bureau, Spectrum Enforcement Division, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554.

      • Complaints should be in writing and should include as much of the following information as possible:

        • The call sign and address of the station experiencing the interference;

        • The telephone number of a contact person for the station;

        • The frequency on which the complaining station operates;

        • A detailed description of the nature of the interference, including the duration and frequency of the occurrence of interference;

        • The call sign and address of the station believed to be the source of the interference;

        • The frequency on which the alleged interfering facility operates;

        • The provision of the Communications Act, Commission rule, order or station authorization believed to have been violated by the alleged source of the interference; and

        • Any documentation supporting the alleged existence and cause of the interference.

Offices that Handle Public Safety Enforcement Issues

Office of the Bureau Chief
Enforcement Bureau
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW - 3rd floor
Washington, DC 20554
Phone: (202) 418-7450

Spectrum Enforcement Division
Enforcement Bureau
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW - 3rd floor
Washington, DC 20554
Phone: (202) 418-1160

Market Disputes Resolution Division
(for Section 208 complaints and Accelerated Docket matters only
Enforcement Bureau
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW - 4th floor
Washington, DC 20554
Phone: (202) 418-7330

This page last revised November 13, 2014.
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