Police sergeants with pager-sized radiation detectors. A thousand cops on counterterrorism duty. Police officers stationed in Tel Aviv and Singapore.
Those were just some of the changes since Sept. 11 that city officials described at Tuesday's meeting of the commission probing the 2001 terrorist attacks.
But some members of the Sept. 11 commission wondered whether enough has changed, especially regarding plans for cooperation among city agencies in major emergencies.
The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States began two days of hearings in New York Tuesday focused on emergency response to terrorist strikes — the devastating one on Sept. 11, and the potential one lurking ahead.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly saw proof of that potential in two recent terrorist schemes that were foiled -- a plot to take down the Brooklyn Bridge, and another to ship weapons into Manhattan
"I take these two terrorist plots as a reminder that New York City remains squarely fixed in terrorists' sights," Kelly said.
Since Sept. 11, Kelly's department has diverted 1,000 police officers to counterterrorism duties. He has dispatched intelligence officers to Lyon, Tel Aviv, London, Montreal and Singapore. Officers visited Moscow and Madrid after train bombings in either city, and their observations were used to improve security in New York.
Protective gear has been issued to 33,000 officers, and pager-sized radiation detectors are now carried by every sergeant.
But "defending the city against the threat of global terror comes at a steep price," Kelly said — $200 million a year. The extra security imposed since the start of the Iraq war, called Operation Atlas alone costs $1 million in overtime.
"We have national and international assets here and were spending our dime to protect them," Kelly said. He pleaded for more federal funds for New York City, given its prominence as a terrorist target.
Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said the lack of federal funding compounded resource constraints blamed of the city's budget crisis.
"The FDNY requires sustained, flexible funding from the federal government," he said.
Human resources are also tight, Scoppetta said. The firefighters killed on Sept. 11 included a number of high-ranking officers, whose experience is missed.
Commissioners displayed great concern over lines of authority for major emergencies. The commission staff issued a preliminary report stating that traditional rivalry between the fire and police departments was a persistent problem.
"Among the lessons that we've learned painfully," commissioner Fred Fielding said, "is that turf battles don't assist in obtaining intelligence, turf battles don't assist in analyzing intelligence, turf battles don't assist in saving lives."
Commissioners criticized a new citywide emergency policy that lists a lead agency in some types of emergencies, but in others requires an on-the-spot as to who is in charge. Scoppetta acknowledged that the new policy would require extensive training to work.
But the officials generally downplayed the rivalry issue.
"On 9/11 there was no lack of cooperation among the agencies," said Office of Emergency Management director Joseph Bruno.
"The whole issue of rivalry is overblown," Kelly said. "I think there have been some incidents. They've been few and far between."
One of the panel's more distressing findings was that on Sept. 11, 911 operators told some World Trade Center workers not to evacuate on Sept. 11, because that was standard procedure in most fires where mass evacuations are unnecessary.
Now, Kelly said, 911 operators now have a method for getting up-to-date instructions out.
Looking nationally, Kelly said the FBI and NYPD shared intelligence information efficiently, but added "cases in other parts of the country affecting New York are not told to us."
By Jarrett Murphy