(Sept. 11, 2001 -- posted 2:50 p.m.) -- LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill, flanked by several LB Councilmembers, the City Manager, LBPD and LBFD chiefs, held a City Hall news conference this afternoon to update LB residents on the city's status following today's terror attacks on the east coast.
Poised, somber and speaking in measured tones, Mayor O'Neill began by saying, "We are devastated and stunned by the appalling acts of terrorism and cowardice that have taken place this morning in New York and in Washington, D.C. We have really yet to realize the magnitude of this horrific act. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones today."
The Mayor stated, "Although we have no reason to believe the City of Long Beach is at risk, we want to assure the citizens of Long Beach that all appropriate measures are being taken to ensure the safety of our citizens, our facilities and the businesses in our community."
Confirming a report (and e-mail advisory) moved earlier on LBReport.com, Mayor O'Neill said that out of respect, tonight's City Council meeting has been cancelled.
However, she said "all of the city's services are operating and ready."
LBPD Chief Jerome Lance said his officers went on tactical alert at 6:15 a.m., which he said involves establishing a command post, reducing number of low priority calls handled, focusing on priority one calls and checking critical facilities. Chief Lance said that (as of 1:15 p.m.), LBPD was still on a tactical alert.
Chief Lance said LBPD is assisting LB Airport in providing security, and is also working with agencies including the FBI, FAA, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Border Patrol, the CA Governor's Office, LA County Sheriffs and CSULB to coordinate activities.
He said the following local buildings were closed: the LB Federal Building, the LB World Trade Center, the LB (County) courthouse and CSULB.
Chief Lance said LBPD is prepared "to address these situations as best you can be prepared for this type of situation in any city. This is a terrorist attack and these folks were determined to do harm to people, and we'll be ready to respond...We have people in the Sheriffs headquarters in LA where they're tactical alert to coordinate with their resources and our resources, so if anything happens in the County, we'll be able to assist them and likewise they'll be able to assist us."
LBFD Chief Skip Beck said his force was also on tactical alert and LBFD's Operations Center (to which all command officers respond) was activated. The city's emergency operations center was also activated and all off-duty personnel were placed on alert. LBFD also established additional field tactical command posts, along with the Department's cache of specialized equipment.
Chief Beck said his Department is providing hourly updates to the City Manager's office, elected officials, the LBPD and field resources. He said LBFD had also been in contact with the CA Dept. of Emergency Services in the event LB needed to bring in additional fire equipment through its mutual aid system.
Chief Beck said he was part of a conference call this morning with Fire Chiefs throughout CA to discuss tactical plans and feels comfortable with them.
Mayor O'Neill said the U.S. Coast Guard is escorting all departing ships and is checking all incoming ships outside the breakwater. She added that arriving trucks are being allowed in the Port under tighter security precautions.
The Mayor said LB Airport (like all U.S. airports) is closed and extra security measures have been put in place. She also said Donald Douglas Drive leading into LB Airport is closed.
Mayor O'Neill noted that although LBUSD schools are in session, all field trips and sports events have been cancelled. However, other after-school activities are continuing and additional security patrols have been assigned by LBPD.
Mayor O'Neill said all adult sports activities in LB parks have been cancelled.
LB's Director of Emergency Preparedness, Casey Chel, said that roughly two years ago LB embarked as part of a federal program to respond and prepare for a terrorism event.
Mr. Chel added that local blood donation agencies were overwhelmed by local residents offering to give blood. He urged those wishing to donate blood to call after Thursday at: 1-800-GIVEBLOOD (1-800-448-2566).
Also attending the news conference (although not speaking) were Vice Mayor Dan Baker, Councilmembers Rob Webb, Bonnie Lowental and Ray Grabinski and City Manager Henry Tabaoda.
No new Council meeting date was announced and the next scheduled Council meeting would be Sept. 18 unless a special meeting is called in the interim.