Terror expert stands ready to help Baltimore

Former N.Y. official preparing response plan

September 26, 2001|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

For Louis R. Anemone, the former New York City Police Department official who orchestrated airlifts atop the World Trade Center after the 1993 bombing there, the most valuable tool is speed.

It can make the difference between casualties and survivors in the fight against terrorism, he said.

"Time is a luxury in this particular business. It's one you really can't afford," Anemone said in an interview. "You have to try to get everyone to the highest level of readiness as quickly as they can."

Days after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Anemone, 55, was brought to Baltimore by his longtime friend, Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris, to write a plan that would ready the city for a terrorist assault.

Though Anemone has been working here during the past two weeks, the Police Department will formally request today that the city enter into a six-month, $30,000 contract with him.

Anemone's hiring has generated some contention. City Council President Sheila Dixon said she understood the importance of being prepared for an emergency; much of the city's equipment and plans are "covered in dust [and] outdated," she said. But she said she was troubled by the quick hiring of Anemone, because it was not initially clear how much he would be paid.

"Based on what we just went through on the budget, we need to tread lightly," she said.

Mayor Martin O'Malley dismissed concerns about the handshake hire, saying that the top priority is making Baltimore safe. He said he wants a plan to place the city on the cutting edge of preparedness.

"I want my city to be a hard target," O'Malley said.

During his 35-year career with the New York police force, Anemone dealt with terrorist attacks and bouts of civil unrest.

He wrote New York's civil disorder plan after riots in 1991 in Brooklyn's Crown Heights and in 1992 in Washington Heights. In 1994, he was made chief of patrol.

A year later, he was appointed chief of the department, the department's third-highest position, and wrote the city's security plan addressing terrorism.

After the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Anemone directed the rescue efforts to evacuate thousands of people and organized about 40 roof-top landings for helicopters to airlift survivors.

As chief of the department, Anemone was known for his sharp tongue and relentless push for success. He retired from the force in 1999 after reportedly being angry that he was no longer consulted on top decisions.

Anemone has been trying to spot Baltimore's vulnerabilities. He has visited Camden Yards, PSINet Stadium and the Inner Harbor.

Key to development of the plan, he said, is input from all emergency agencies. All must sign on to one plan so that activating it will be push-button simple.

Anemone said he has written a draft of a plan and is working with the police to tailor it to Baltimore.

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