- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Regional leaders yesterday called on new Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge to make the metropolitan D.C. area a priority in crafting anti-terrorism plans, amid discussions on improving the region's response to terrorist attacks.
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan said there needs to be better coordination between the federal and local governments in preparedness and responses to attacks, adding that the governments responded admirably during the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon.
Mr. Duncan and Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry, both Democrats, said Mr. Ridge, a Republican and former governor of Pennsylvania, could provide a framework for cooperation by drafting a plan for the region that would allow for better communications among the multiple layers of government.
"Right now, it's as if the White House is just talking to the District of Columbia," Mr. Duncan said of communications between the federal government and local jurisdictions.
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, a Democrat, met with Mr. Duncan, Mr. Curry and Katherine K. Hanley, a Democrat and chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Northwest to discuss improving communication among their jurisdictions and with the public.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the metropolitan area would be a priority for Mr. Ridge, as would other parts of the country.
"It is clear that Governor Ridge's role is to coordinate and integrate a comprehensive national strategy throughout all levels of government," Mr. McClellan said.
The region does "need a more coordinated plan" to deal with terrorist threats and reactions to them, Mrs. Hanley said. But the area's many jurisdictions will probably prevent the establishment of an efficient decision-making process like that of New York City, where an executive can make a decision and have it carried out immediately, she said.
Mr. Ridge was sworn in yesterday at the White House as the new Cabinet-level director of domestic security. Mr. Curry, Mr. Williams and Mr. Duncan attended the ceremony.
Mrs. Hanley was not invited. According to sources close to her, she is upset because the snub shows a lack of attention by the federal government in bringing everyone in the area into the loop in discussing security concerns.
The recent planning and implementation of increased security in the region can be viewed as an example of a lack of communication between local and federal agencies.
The federal government consulted little with local jurisdictions other than the District or the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) before closing streets near the State Department through this morning's rush hour, deploying National Guard troops at airports, and closing Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Other security enhancements done unilaterally include Amtrak, as of yesterday, requiring passengers at stations between Washington and Boston to present photo identification before boarding trains and the Coast Guard beginning increased patrols along the Potomac River, with 96-hour notification of commercial vessels entering ports of call.
The FBI also has asked local law enforcement agencies to be on their highest state of alert and private security firms to increase their presence.
COG, which is supposed to pull local governments together during crises to produce unified decisions, has not been involved in any of the region's increased security measures, said COG Executive Director Mike Rogers. The group has not been consulted about increased security by the agencies themselves, but rather local jurisdictions, he said.

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