RealNews

Roles in Disaster Cause Rift in City

More than two and a half years after the World Trade Center attacks exposed weaknesses in New York City’s emergency response system, the city still lacks what many experts say is the most basic and essential tool for handling disasters: a formal agreement governing which city agency would lead the response at the scene of any catastrophic accident or terrorist strike. Indeed, documents and interviews show that the dispute over control of such scenes among the city’s main emergency response agencies — the Police and Fire Departments and the Office of Emergency Management — remains profound. An exchange of letters in January between the Police Department and the O.E.M., in fact, shows that the police insist that they should control virtually every major emergency. The police, saying they alone possess the necessary resources and expertise, cite intelligence that they say makes clear “that Al Qaeda and other related terrorist groups are planning to utilize WMD devices to attack New York City.” Full Story

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