Criticism Over Post-9/11 Security in the D.C. Region

Region lacks central command center to take control during emergencies

On the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks the nation’s capital region still falls short in its ability to deal with natural disasters or potential terrorist incidents, and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said it is "scary" that the federal government isn't doing more to help.

A mid-afternoon motorcade and heavy police presence made a mess of routine traffic on busy North Capitol Street Wednesday, raising again old questions about how the region will handle evacuations or emergency response to natural incidents or terrorism in a crowded metropolitan area.

“I believe this is a serious issue for the region,” Norton said.

Federal Homeland Security officials aren't working with local officials to assure there are no gaps in regional responses, she said.

”And frankly, 12 years after 9/11, not being able to say where the gaps are is very scary,” Norton said. “In fact, my problem is, I can't tell you what the gaps are and I should be able to say so if this office were effective.”

Norton was part of a regional review by the area's Council of Governments, which has worked to get better communication among dozens of local governments in emergencies.

Falls Church Vice Mayor David Snyder - a veteran of transportation and security issues - said the region is doing better but still has no one agency really in charge for emergencies.

“We still lack the one thing that we really need to give the public assurance that we can handle any event regardless of how unpredictable,” he said.

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