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Fire Department official acknowledges poor communication before Barclays Center disaster drill Sept. 13

There wasn't much discussion of the Barclays Center at last night's 78th Precinct Community Council, at least in part because Council President Pauline Blake suggested that concerns be held for the Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting scheduled for this Thursday at 6:30 pm.

But New York Fire Department Battalion Chief Don Hayde did offer some oblique apologies for poor communication before the disaster drill held at the arena on Friday, Sept. 13. It was announced the day before but not circulated to many people until hours before the start.

For those not in the know, the scenes with actors playing dead and injured people, as well as emergency personnel in haz mat suits was alarming.

"It was not public knowledge in this community until late Thursday night," Blake said. "I have to say it was poor communication. I dialogued with OEM [Office of Emergency Management] and they passed the buck to you."

Hayde said previous drills, held in a portion of Penn Station, were not so publicly visible, and thus less alarming. He said the Barclays Center was chosen not because it was seen as particularly vulnerable, but because it was among venues where large groups gather.

"Collectively, the ball got dropped," acknowledged Hayde, who said "we put the notice out the day before." He promised better notification, as well as signage during the event, if such a drill were to happen again.

Crime down

Deputy Inspector Michael Ameri said that, overall, crime was down some 2% this year, even with an influx of people attending events at the Barclays Center and Prospect Park.

Though there are "some impacts on quality of life," he said, "nobody got hurt" or has been a crime victim.

How many cops?

One resident at Dean Street and Carlton Avenue said arena crowds are mainly peaceful, but there were drunk people and people fighting during the last two Nets playoff games. She asked if the police presence, significant when the arena opened but then diminished, would be restored.

Ameri said everyone knew that the police presence would decrease after the initial tone was set, but that NYPD researches events to try to match the perceived challenges with the right number of personnel.

So the Nets' season-opener Nov. 1 against the defending champion Miami Heat should draw not just a sellout crowd but also, according to Ameri, a good number of cops.

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