Mayor Promises City Will Build on 9/11 Study Findings
By AL BAKER

ayor Michael R. Bloomberg pledged greater coordination between New York City's Police and Fire Departments today as he issued an independent consultant's twin reports about the agencies' responses to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Leaders of both agencies, who flanked the mayor at a City Hall news conference, detailed the steps they would take, or had begun taking, to address a number of complicated deficiencies cited by the consultant, McKinsey & Company.

All the officials took pains to portray the studies not as an effort to second-guess the actions of the 343 firefighters and 23 city police officers who died on Sept. 11 but as an effort to improve the handling of future emergencies.

``We owe it to those we lost and those they left behind to learn what we can from this tragedy,'' Mayor Bloomberg said. ``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.''

The Fire Department was plagued by problems in radio communication, lapses in discipline and a lack of coordinated efforts with the Police Department, which itself suffered from leadership lapses, coordination problems and a lack of proper planning and training, according to the reports, which together totaled more than 250 pages.

The Fire Department, the consultants said, should fortify its single hazardous material unit, develop mutual aid agreements with other agencies and improve communications and operational preparedness. The Police Department, it said, should enhance its mobilization procedures and clearly define the roles of its top officials in the event of a disaster.

And both agencies should better coordinate with the Central Intelligence Agency, the United States Coast Guard and other federal, state and local agencies on issues like information dissemination and emergency response.

Copies of the reports were to be posted on the both departments' Web sites, www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/home.html and www.nyc.gov/html/fdny/html/home2.html, and distributed to firehouses and to the survivors of the more than 2,800 people killed in the New York City attacks.

They follow five months of study by two separate teams from a corporate consultant best known for expertise in management practices. The consultants interviewed fire and police officials, reviewed tapes of audio transmissions and transcripts of communications on Sept. 11 and studied internal operational logs and spoke with outside experts.

But the city was careful not to present the research into the response as an all-encompassing investigation or as a moment-by-moment re-creation of events.

Nonetheless, city officials said the studies had been extensive enough to use in forming recommendations and to find out, as Mayor Bloomberg phrased it, what had worked and what had not, in order to better prepare for a future cataclysm.

In many cases, the mayor said, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta have independently identified many of the issues addressed by the reports.

In the case of the Police Department, for example, Mr. Kelly early on established a counterterrorism bureau and expanded the department's Intelligence Division. He has also moved to improve catastrophe planning, including the establishment of redundant command centers and a plan for continuity of command and operational succession in case of an emergency.

Mr. Scoppetta has also begun to put into effect steps suggested by the report, especially trying to improve the radio communication system. And both departments have begun to work more closely, like trading liaison officers and developing ways to place fire chiefs on police helicopters.

``We are taking all of these steps and more to better prepare ourselves and the public for events we once considered unimaginable,'' Mr. Kelly said. ``In the end, this examination of our performance will help make us a stronger department.''

In making their recommendations, the McKinsey analysts relied on hundreds of interviews and thousands of other parcels of information.

Still, some people have questioned whether the research was extensive enough for the conclusions the McKinsey teams reached, and that has led some to question their validity.

For example, some skeptics have noted that the consultants began to write draft reports several months into their work but before they had learned of a tape recording that significantly altered official thinking on how Fire Department radios had performed that morning.

Charles R. Jennings, an assistant professor of fire science and public administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that although he had not read the reports themselves, only press accounts of them, he regarded the research effort as ``inadequate.''

``I think the fact that we had two separate investigations, each one of which was captive to a particular agency, is a problem, and apparently the city made some effort at the tail end of this to coordinate the findings from the two studies,'' he said. ``But there are serious issues that need to be examined from a comprehensive, interdisciplinary and interagency standpoint, which are beyond the scope and methodology used in these studies.''

But he said many recommendations appeared to be reasonable and were probably things that many people within the agencies, or outside observers, could have recommended on their own, but more quickly.