- The Washington Times - Friday, May 27, 2005

The District is still waiting for a written protocol for emergencies from the federal Homeland Security Department.

“There are new protocols already in place, but we don’t have a written one from [Homeland Security],” said Deputy Mayor Edward D. Reiskin, who is in charge of public safety and justice.

Mr. Reiskin said he expects the federal directive on how emergencies are to be handled to be completed “shortly.”

Last week, Mayor Anthony A. Williams said he had expected a “corrected” protocol from Homeland Security this week.

But Homeland Security spokesman Brian Roehrkasse could not say when the protocol will be completed.

“Those are the things [that] are currently being worked on, and I cannot tell you whether all of them have been implemented at this juncture,” Mr. Roehr-kasse said.

Confusion over protocol has persisted between federal and city officials since a wayward pilot flew into restricted D.C. airspace May 11. The incident prompted evacuation of the White House, Capitol and Supreme Court — without the notification of D.C. officials.

Emergency protocols and procedures that were established in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks nearly four years ago are still being developed and refined, officials said.

Mr. Reiskin said a Metropolitan Police Department officer responsible for monitoring a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) communication line was “reassigned” within two days after the errant May 11 flight.

“We don’t give any information on personnel issues,” he said without elaborating.

The city’s FAA “squawk box” was not operating that day. It would have let police know there was a problem with a plane in restricted airspace but would not have provided information about the evacuation, officials have said.

Mr. Williams told The Washington Times last week that city workers responsible for monitoring FAA communications would be disciplined.

Meanwhile, Mr. Reiskin said another D.C. police officer assigned to Homeland Security’s operations center is now getting “direct communication” from federal officials.

Mr. Williams has vowed to improve communication between D.C. agencies and the White House, the Capitol, the Office of Personnel and Management, and the Department of Homeland Security.

He also has said city and federal officials will place D.C. employees in high levels of the command centers operated by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to monitor potential security threats.

During a crisis, Homeland Security is supposed to notify the D.C. Emergency Management Agency (EMA), which then notifies the mayor and the chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, an EMA spokeswoman said.

Yet EMA Director Barbara Childs-Pair last week said no one in Homeland Security notified her about the evacuation, as required by protocol.

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