House Administration Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) will seek the creation of a new joint task force to coordinate security planning for the District of Columbia, in an attempt to improve coordination between federal and local government officials.
The proposal, announced in a letter issued Tuesday by Norton, calls for a team of federal and city officials to create a “citywide coordinated security plan.”
“Various federal entities, of course, will require different levels of security and action, depending on intelligence, location, and other factors, but coordination will help assure that measures to protect the entire city have been thought through and that, for example, actions taken in one part of the city do not unintentionally heighten the profile of other important facilities elsewhere,” Norton wrote in the Aug. 16 letter.
Norton and other local leaders, including D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams (D), had criticized Congressional law-enforcement officials earlier this month for failing to advise the District government before they closed a portion of First Street Northeast and the erection of more than a dozen vehicle checkpoints across Capitol Hill.
No immediate details were available on who the task force would include. However, Norton met in early August with officials from the House and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms office, the Capitol Police, the Architect of the Capitol, the Metropolitan Police Department, D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, the D.C. Emergency Management Agency, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the D.C. Department of Transportation and the D.C. City Administrator’s office to discuss security planning.
During that Aug. 9 meeting, officials agreed to meet monthly and to begin work on a coordinated security plan, according to Norton’s office.
A Ney spokesman confirmed the chairman’s support for the measure Tuesday, describing a Sunday telephone call between Ney and Norton as a “productive and positive conversation.”
“There certainly needs to be … more coordination between the city and Congress, the federal government and the District government,” said Ney’s spokesman, Brian Walsh.
In addition, the Ohio lawmaker will consider the creation of a committee detailee to serve as a liaison to the task force.
Walsh noted that the new post could be filled by a security expert or an expert in urban planning, but added that no decisions have been made, including a time frame for filling the new job. “He is committed to pursing it as quickly as possible,” Walsh said.