Security Alert Prompts Changes; Williams, Chertoff to Close Communication Gaps

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert Redding Jr., THE WASHINGTON TIMES

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said yesterday that his meeting with U.S. officials about better communication during high-security threats included talks about getting police officers deeper into federal command centers for better access to raw data.

"We are talking about changing some of the procedures ... that I think will go a long way," said Mr. Williams, who has scheduled a series of meetings with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in the aftermath of a small plane drifting into restricted airspace last week.

One immediate change, Mr. Williams said, is that a city official will be posted at the Transportation Security Administration's operations center and the District will better monitor a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) channel.

Metropolitan Police Department officers missed an alert that the private, single-engine plane entered restricted airspace May 11 because the department's line to the FAA was disconnected between the night of May 10 and the morning of the incident.

"Those are no-brainers," said Mr. Williams, a Democrat.

However, Homeland Security Department officials must complete a "risk assessment" before city officials can be allowed deeper into the Homeland Security Department's operations center, where the country's highest-level officials track information about possible terrorist threats. …