photo by PH2 (AW) Jim Watson
the NYPD Going
FELIX LAM G’89 DIDN'T
have time to stop and reflect about the terror and destruction
that struck Manhattan on September 11. Instead, the deputy commissioner
of management and budget for the New York City Police Department
shifted into high gear with the 600 civilians and police officers
under his command. Building maintenance workers delivered and
set up light poles and generators at the disaster site. Plumbers
fashioned portable eye-wash stations built out of fire hydrants.
Carpenters constructed ramps enabling large fire trucks and
extraction equipment to move amid the rubble. Electricians rerouted
power lines to support emergency lighting and generators.
“It was quite an operation,” says Lam,
who earned a master’s degree in public administration from the
Maxwell School. “Every day I’d visit them and try to keep their
morale high and make sure they knew their boss was in this with
them. The first couple days I don’t think anyone slept. We were
up around the clock here at headquarters and down at the scene.
After that, I slept in my office for the first week. We were
working about 100 hours a week. It was non-stop.”
Lam’s office was responsible for obtaining
and delivering thousands of breathing masks and biohazard protective
suits. After fulfilling these and other unexpected supply requests,
Lam struggled to put together a revised budget and assess what
resources the department might need in the future. “No one really
knows what’s going to happen next,” he says.
Lam estimates that nearly one-third of
the department’s total budget, or approximately $1 billion,
will be spent on the disaster, including overtime costs and
replacing or repairing equipment. Lam, however, tries to be
optimistic. “We’re getting a lot of equipment donated, especially
vehicles, because we lost a lot of them at the scene,” he says.
“We’ve got a large amount of money coming in from people donating
to our widows and orphans fund. All those things are helping
us get through this.”