- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A top D.C. official yesterday said his office is still honing the details of an emergency protocol, more than six weeks after a plane violated the District’s restricted airspace.

Edward D. Reiskin, deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said his office aims to complete, by the end of the week, revisions of the draft document from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“We are going to finish it internally [this week],” said Mr. Reiskin, whose office received the protocol June 2.

D.C. officials have been pushing to develop a protocol since a private plane accidentally flew into restricted airspace May 11 and prompted an evacuation of federal buildings without their knowledge.

Mr. Reiskin yesterday spoke to The Washington Times in a conference call with Thomas J. Lockwood, director of national capital region coordination for the Department of Homeland Security.

“We already have made the internal changes [recommended in the protocol], and D.C. is evolving it to be a better document,” said Mr. Lockwood, who stressed that most of the issues revolving around the airspace violation were resolved “within the first week or so” of last month’s incident.

On Monday, Mr. Lockwood met with Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey and Andrew L. Jackson Jr., deputy director of the D.C. Emergency Management Agency (EMA), but the protocol was not discussed, officials said.

Mr. Lockwood said D.C. and federal officials might not have to hold a final meeting on the protocol after it is submitted this week. “If D.C. has a better piece, we will integrate it directly,” he said.

Earlier this month, EMA Director Barbara Childs-Pair said the protocol had been returned to federal officials, adding that revisions were needed to protect residents.

Neither Mrs. Childs-Pair nor Mr. Reiskin has divulged how city officials are trying to alter the document.

“We would like to come to an agreement,” Mr. Reiskin said. “I don’t think the way to do that is to put it in the newspaper.”

The May 11 incident prompted federal officials to evacuate the White House, Capitol, Supreme Court and other buildings without notifying D.C. officials.

D.C. officials have complained that such haphazard actions hamper efforts to control and move crowds, transport injured persons, dispatch and track emergency equipment, and otherwise manage during a crisis.

City officials said this month that “redundancies” in the protocol have been employed to ensure that officials are alerted.

Part of the plan includes placing an officer at the Transportation Security Administration and possibly a second police officer at Homeland Security’s operations center.

During an emergency, those officers are to contact the police department, which will contact the Emergency Management Agency. The agency then will notify the mayor and other top city officials.

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