- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 6, 2001

Slugs, according to D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, could save Washington in another terrorist attack.

He's talking about the members of the District's impromptu carpools those "slugs" who catch rides with drivers who want to take advantage of uncrowded high-occupancy-vehicle lanes.

"I know a lot about slugs, seeing that I tried taking them on when I first came," said Chief Ramsey.

Chief Ramsey tackled slugs in July 1998 when he tried moving the lines from 14th Street, but he faced major opposition from Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat. Chief Ramsey lost the battle and slug lines still form there.

The chief said in a meeting yesterday on the District's emergency-response plans that slugs could help in a situation where the subway system was disabled.

"They said Metro did not have enough buses to move the people out. I said, 'How about slugs?'" Chief Ramsey said. "We could just line up cars and put two or three people in and send them out of the city."

The chief concedes using slug lines to evacuate Washington may sound a little farfetched at first, but it could work in an emergency.

He said the Metropolitan Police Department is working with the D.C. Division of Transportation to develop an evacuation plan. After the plan is completed, they will work with other jurisdictions to coordinate evacuation plans.

"This is a regional issue and we must deal with it in a comprehensive, regional manner," he said.

Chief Ramsey said officials should be open to creative responses as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York.

Since then, the chief said he has tried to envision every possible scenario the District might face.

Chief Ramsey said he learned after seeing the results of the disaster in New York that normal planning is not enough.

He noted that the officials had no idea the twin towers would collapse and that the command center to fight the fires and evacuate the buildings was so close.

He said that the first tower fell over and killed many firefighters and their commander, but if it had fallen in another direction it would have taken out the police command center.

"They did what police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel do in any incident approaching this magnitude, they rushed headlong into danger," he told the D.C. Council yesterday. "And in doing so, they saved countless lives, even as many of their own did not survive."

He said that although planning is necessary, he found in New York that emergency personnel had no plan to refer to.

"There are no rules for the type of heartless attacks that occurred on Sept. 11. And because of that, there can be no hard-and-fast rules of how police officers and other first responders will react," the chief testified. "Responding to the threat we face today will necessarily entail a great deal of quick thinking, ingenuity and improvisation on our part."

Chief Ramsey said the department needs additional resources so police can better protect federal buildings in the city and neighborhoods.

The chief said that officers who normally worked in the neighborhoods were deployed to civil-disturbance units until Monday because of concern there might be more attacks.

D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said there is a fine balance between the needs of the federal government and the rest of the city. She said the mayor should negotiate with the federal government about additional resources for the police and fire departments so that the citizens' needs are met as well as the federal government's.

"It is a struggle for us that needs to resolved," Mrs. Patterson said.

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