The United States of America

On September 9, 2001 (9/11) - The Tragic Terror Attack

On September 9, 2001, also known as 9/11, the United States of America experienced its worst terror assault. The extremist organization al-Qaeda is thought to have been involved in the terror assault. They took control of four aircraft, which they then used to crash into the target region, which included the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York. Thousands of people died as a result of the tragic events that followed the accident. Numerous contact difficulties were experienced by the emergency responders and law enforcement agencies both inside the structure and with other outside groups. (Adams & Stewart, 2015). Poor communication among the evacuees, who were compelled to evacuate in large numbers, was blamed for the disaster's high death toll.

The Impact of Poor Communication on the Death Toll

The high death toll due to the disaster was attributed to poor communication as the evacuators were forced to make significant choices with inadequate communication. It also prevented the building occupants from receiving evacuation announcements. The communication barriers made it difficult for evacuators inside the building to connect with those outside the building. This made them not evacuate the building in time, thus resulting in high death rates. The radio systems for the law enforcers, which included the Fire Department and Police Department, were discordant with each other, and they also operated in dissimilar frequencies operating under different capabilities. The consequence of this is that the evacuators were unable to efficiently and effectively coordinate to help the victims and themselves. Therefore, when the police helicopters, which were assessing the damage and collapse of the World Trade Center’s South Tower, sent the warning announcing that the North tower was about to collapse, it was only heard by police officers who were able to evacuate before the imminent collapse. The firefighters were unable to evacuate as they never got the warning, thus resulting in the loss of life of hundreds of firefighters. Also, due to the incompatibility of the Fire and Police Departments' radio systems, the radio systems for the Fire Department had a narrow range which limited communication. Despite an evacuation alert sent by the fire chief, many firefighters from upper floors perished as they never got the message due to the limited range of their radio systems.

Efforts to Improve Communication

The federal government has made efforts to reinforce the interoperability of communication among the law enforcers such as the police, firefighters in the federal, state, local, and even private sector who provide emergency services during disasters. The commission tasked with making recommendations on communication improvement after the 9/11 terror attack legislated that the radio spectrum should be increased for purposes of public safety during disasters. The United States Congress also legislated that all television broadcasters should allow some of their radio spectrum to be available for use by emergency response organizations as this ensures that radio systems can withstand high usability without breaking down. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was established to monitor and supervise the transfer of the radio spectrum. The DHS is also tasked with the running of the Wireless Public Interoperable Communications Program to ensure compatibility of the radio systems of the rescue departments. The International Code Council for antiterrorism requires all buildings to have inbuilt radio systems that will provide adequate communication for rescue teams within the building and with those outside the building. There has been improved radio and wireless communications that aid in ensuring that there is no communication breakdown.

Improvement in Fire Department Communication

The Fire Department has invested in the training of its staff on terrorism trends. There has also been adaptation of a single standard radio language as opposed to the various ones used initially that were specific to a particular agency. The implementation of the National Incident Management System helps in the provision of a systematic approach that assists in public safety as it allows collaboration between the public and the private sector (Hess, Orthmann & LaDue, 2015). Firefighting training has been standardized across the country, therefore enabling excellent coordination during emergencies or whenever they work together.

Changes in the Police Department

The Police Department has undergone significant changes since the devastating terror attack. The New York Police Department created the Counterterrorism Bureau. The Bureau helps in the analysis of terrorist threats. Before the 9/11 terror attack, there was intelligence suggesting a terror attack on New York, but due to inadequate funds, workforce, and communication, the threat was not followed up on to neutralize it. The Counterterrorism Bureau has agents worldwide who obtain and share intelligence on terrorist threats. The Department has invested in various high-tech security measures that are designed to hinder attacks on its security. Modern information sharing among the agencies helps in having instant access to all information countrywide, thus facilitating communication and collaboration within all sectors of law enforcement (Ortmeier, 2017).

Continued Efforts for Improvement

Although significant improvements have been made post 9/11, there is still considerable work needed. For example, the relevant agencies should integrate all available technology. All data should be entered in the Records Management Systems, thus ensuring that all departments coordinate and work together in ensuring the safety of all citizens. This will allow threats to be neutralized before any harm is done as different agencies have access to the relevant data and help stop crime across borders.


Adams, T. M., & Stewart, L. D. (2015). Chaos theory and organizational crisis: A theoretical analysis of the challenges faced by the New Orleans Police Department during Hurricane Katrina. Public Organization Review, 15(3), 415-431.

Hess, K. M., Orthmann, C. H., & LaDue, S. E. (2015). Management and supervision in law enforcement. Cengage Learning.

Ortmeier, P. J. (2017). Introduction to Security. Pearson.

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