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Bloomberg Discusses Report on 9/11

Aired August 19, 2002 - 11:10   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We are back, and we are live now from New York's City Hall, where you see the mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who is with him -- a report prepared by an auditing firm that looked at some of the communications and other snafus that occurred between the different emergency agencies in New York City -- the fire department and police department, and looking back at what could be done better should another attack occur -- let's listen in.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: ... standing behind me. We have three commissioners, John Odermatt from OEM, Ray Kelly from the police department, and Nick Scoppetta from the fire department.

And we are also joined by some of the members of the McKinsey team, partner Lee Kempler (ph), partner Carlos Kershner (ph). And I wanted to particularly mention Lisa Frazier (ph), who is standing on the side someplace, who really did all the work for McKinsey.

And from the fire department, Chief of Department Frank Cruthers -- who has a new job, as those of you who were lucky enough to be at fire department headquarters last week know -- Chief of Operations Sal Casano (ph), Deputy Commissioner John Shaknigh (ph), and Deputy Assistant Chief Pete Hayden (ph).

And then from the police department, Chief of Department Joe Esposito, Chief of Patrol Nicholas Estavillo, Chief of Housing Douglas Zeigler, and Chief of Counterterrorism George Brown (ph).

And I thought it's appropriate that they stand here, and they'd be happy to take questions afterwards.

As you know, some five months ago, Commissioners Kelly and Scoppetta asked the highly respected management consulting firm of McKinsey & Company to study the responses of the police department and fire department to the attack on the World Trade Center. The goal was to learn from the events of 9-11 so that the city can learn from the experiences of that day, from what worked and what didn't, so that we will be better prepared for any future large- scale emergency. This morning, Commissioners Kelly and Scoppetta, will join me to present the findings and recommendations of these consultant studies.

The attacks on the World Trade Center left a New York landmark destroyed. It also took the lives of 2,800 people, including 400 of our bravest and finest. None of us who ever lived through that 9-11 will ever forget the incredible bravery, professionalism and sacrifice of the New York City Fire Department and the New York City Police Department on that horrible day.

Putting aside any thought of their own safety, our bravest and finest carried out what the McKinsey report descries as the most successful urban emergency evacuation in modern history. The men and women of the FDNY and the NYPD should be proud of that.

As mayor of New York and as someone who knows people who were rescued from the World Trade Center site that day, I want them to know that all New Yorkers feel more respect and admiration for all the members of our uniformed services than we can ever say.

Three hundred and forty-three members of the fire department, 23 members of the New York City Police Department and 37 members of the Port Authority Police Department gave their lives that day so that others could live. Their sacrifice honors the memory of those 2,800 people that were lost. Nothing we can do can ever bring them back. All we can do now is to improve the ability of the fire department and the police department to respond to major emergencies, including possible future terrorist attack.

Since becoming mayor, I have attended scores of wakes, funerals, memorial services and plaque dedications for firefighters and police officers who fell on 9-11. I have met and spoken with their friends, families and colleagues at each of those somber occasions. There is no doubt in my mind that we are doing today what the heroes of 9-11 would have wanted us to do. It is in that spirit that we present these reports.

Commissioners Kelly and Scoppetta will go into the details of the McKinsey reports concerning their respective departments. Before they speak, though, I want to make the following observations.

The services the McKinsey consultants have rendered should not be described as investigations. They have not attempted moment-by-moment recreations of the events of 9-11, nor have they performed critiques of individual actions.

Rather, they have produced a forward-looking analysis that identifies specific and important opportunities for the New York City Police Department and New York City Fire Department to improve polices and procedures.

In many cases, Commissioners Kelly and Scoppetta have independently identified many of the issues addressed by the consultants' reports. In the case of the NYPD, for example, one of Commissioner Kelly's first acts was to establish a counterterrorism bureau and expand the NYPD's intelligence division. The department has upgraded the protective and other equipment issued to officers who would respond to possible future terrorist incidents. The NYPD has revised its procedures for establishing operational command during emergencies and for mobilizing officers to respond to emergencies.

The McKinsey team studying the fire department has made recommendations in four principal areas: operational preparedness, planning and management, communications technology, and the provision of counseling and other support services to members of the department and their families. Commissioner Scoppetta will present in more details the findings and recommendations under each of these headings. He will also describe what the fire department has done and is doing to deal with these matters.

I would like now to address an issue that has repeatedly come up in the aftermath of 9-11 and has long been considered a problem for New York's uniformed services.

Interagency competition may be unavoidable and even healthy to some extent, but it can never impair our ability to respond to emergencies. The stakes are just too high.

The two commissioners standing with me believe that, and the top members of their organizations are firmly in agreement. That is why since January 1 the police department and fire department have launched several initiatives and established various policies and procedures to facilitate interagency cooperation, coordination and communication during emergency situations.

The Office of Emergency Management also plays a very important part in that.

In addition to regular meetings between Commissioners Kelly and Scoppetta, the collaborative measures include assigning departmental liaisons to placement at the agencies' respective headquarters, establishing an interagency senior executive coordinating committee to review and resolve operational issues, placing fire department chiefs on police department headquarters in certain emergency situations, and examining ways in which police department radio infrastructure might enhance the fire department's communication system.

I want to conclude with these two points.

First, I want to emphasize that the McKinsey reports were prepared with the full cooperation of the fire department and the police department. The McKinsey team that worked with the fire department reviewed computer files, dispatch records and communications tapes. They conducted hundreds of interviews spanning more than 1,000 hours with firefighters and EMS workers, including many who responded to the World Trade Center on 9-11.

They also visited fire departments across the country and interviewed recognized experts in disaster response with the goal of identifying best practices in this vital field.

Similarly, the McKinsey team worked with the police department, interviewing more than 100 officers, surveyed 700 more officers and reviewed numerous departmental records.

Both the fire department and police department have established departmental task forces that will address all of the improvement opportunities identified in the report.

In their presentations to me, the McKinsey teams have stressed how impressed they have been with the diligence that Commissioners Kelly and Scoppetta and their command staffs have shown in working to learn from the experience of 9-11 and improving their departments.

HARRIS: We have been listening to New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, this morning, just sort of setting the table for us and giving us an idea of the breadth and the depth of this report put together by the McKinsey company that looked at the operations of the New York City emergency departments back on September 11 of last year, with an eye toward trying to come up with new ideas, policies and procedures to prevent tragedies from resulting in the numbers of deaths that we saw last year.

He said that they did report, first of all, that what happened on September 11 of last year was the most successful urban evacuation in history. So at least there was some other good news to come out of that.

But they are now in the process of going through this report, which will include some new suggestions to policies and procedures, to better handle intelligence and counterterrorism there in New York, and also to improve the interagency cooperation and communication there between the different departments in New York.

We'll keep an eye on that meeting -- press conference as it gets under way throughout the day. We'll have a report on that for you later on.




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