I am 57 years old. I retired in 2002 from the New
York City Police Department (NYPD) and I am
currently an adjunct instructor at Suffolk Community
College where I teach criminal justice. I started in the
NYPD in January 1982 and I have a B.A. in Criminal
Justice from C.W. Post. I attended Hofstra University
where I earned a Master’s in Social Studies Education
while I was the commanding officer of the narcotics
module in Brooklyn South. I actually had a class
scheduled on September 11, 2001.
I was on duty the morning of September 11 and
was sitting at my desk preparing for my Hofstra class.
My office was in a small building along the waterfront
in Brooklyn. After the first plane hit, we didn’t know
what happened. We thought that this was some kind of an accident, a crappy pilot. The approximately 100
people that reported to me got ready to report to the
crash site before the second plane even hit. When the plane hit the second tower, we knew something was going on. I was then beeped and called my boss to say we were on our way. I told my men to grab all the water and soda they could from the vending machines because I knew we would be there for a while.
It was not hard to get into the Brooklyn Battery
Tunnel because we were cops and I was in a uniformed shirt. We drove through the tunnel filled with smoke; it was very difficult. We parked in front of the Downtown Athletic Club. That is the home to the Heisman Trophy and I actually saw it in the lobby.
Both Towers Fell
By the time we got there, both towers had fallen. It
was a pretty chaotic scene. There was no information
while riding over or on the radios. I got the best
updates from my wife who was watching TV. I called
my daughter who was a freshman in college in
Pennsylvania. My brother was working in the American Express building across the street from the
World Trade Center. I remember the 1993 bombing
when he was told to go back into the building. I told
him that time that he needed to get out. He took my
advice and told everyone else to leave the building. I
called his office number on my way to the crash site
and he was aware enough to leave a message on his
phone saying that he was okay.
We went to Pier 11 where they sent the Organized
Crime Control Bureau people to muster. We were
waiting for someone higher up to give instructions but it was chaotic and people were trying to formulate plans as to what to do. After a short while we didn’t hear anything and my partner and I said to our squad, “Let’s go! Let’s see what we can do.” We started in what we thought would be a rescue effort and decided to go to the AMEX building on the corner of West and Vessy Street. We went to the 7th floor rotunda and stepped out of a window where the top of the “pile” was. The towers “pancaked“ when they came down so there were many stories of rubble to go through. All the responders kept to their own pile. The interactions were good between firefighters, police officers, construction workers, and other civilians who were helping. We dug down with our hands because we didn’t have much equipment, and felt removing small bits would be safest. We had five gallon buckets to help get through the rubble. We were looking for survivors, but everyone was dead. Saint Vincent’s Hospital had a triage set up but nobody went. It was just a dust debris pile with incinerated body ash. There were a couple of intact bloody bodies but most of it was pieces of people.
In a situation like this, you have a job to do, just
like any other job. You didn’t have time to be
emotional. If you get emotional, you’re no good to
anybody. It was hard because everybody knew
somebody who could have been in there. I knew a
number of firefighters socially and people knew there
were a lot of cops and bystanders who went in before the towers fell. Everyone was just doing their job and following the directives of their individual supervisors. What else could you do?
At about 3 PM, we went to 7 World Trade Center.
We were in there for a little bit looking for people.
Then a guy from the FDNY, a “white shirt” [high
ranking supervisor], said this building is coming down. 7 WTC was a concern because the Secret Service had some things in there. The “white shirt” did not elaborate on what those “things” were. We stood outside 65 WTC and it was very impressive how it was falling. My father was a demolition engineer and the way it came down was just unreal.