Tuesday, July 19, 2005

'Matter of time' before N.Y. hit

New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com
'Matter of time' before N.Y. hit

LONDON - It's "just a matter of time" before New York is the target of a terrorist attack similar to the London transit blasts, said a top city emergency management official after wrapping up a visit to Britain.

"Any major city in the U.S. should be expecting something of this nature to happen," said Calvin Drayton, first deputy commissioner of New York City's Office of Emergency Management.

Drayton and the emergency agency's Jake Cooper joined several Transit Authority managers, a Long Island Rail Road official and an MTA counterterrorism expert in meetings in London from Thursday to Saturday to draw lessons from the response to the July 7 bombings.

The New Yorkers examined how British officials shut down the transit system and the speed with which they restarted it. Buses and commuter trains were running by the evening rush hour on the day of the attacks.

Underground trains started the next morning, although the bombed lines still are closed.

"That's a struggle for New York City: How do we restart the system in a very timely fashion?" said Drayton, noting that New York has a 24-hour system, while London's tubes shut from 1 a.m. to about 5 a.m.

The officials studied the closed-circuit TV network that enabled British police to identify the bombers so quickly, as well as London's public-address and poster campaign to remind travelers about suspect packages.

"We need to change the culture of our riders" to make vigilance routine, said Dave Sumner, an operations officer with the LIRR who was on the trip.

Drayton said New Yorkers would respond with the spirit that Londoners showed if struck by transit terror.

"We're fighters. When someone takes a swing at you, you get up very quickly," he said.

"We did that through 9/11. I would like to think we would do the same thing if something like this happens in New York - or when something like this happens in New York.

"It's going to happen. It's just a matter of time."