After spending some time with my supervisor who was burden with guilt for sending the three officers to the World Trade Center, I reassured him that no one ever thought that the towers would fall. I reminded him that what he did was what any supervisor would have done, and he shouldn’t feel guilty.
But I guess that’s easy for me to say…I wasn’t the one who made that decision. So with that, I left him alone. I walked over to the officers standing by the heavy equipment blocking the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, and asked them to keep an eye on our patrol Sergeant until he leaves.
I then got into my truck and headed into New Jersey to my command. As I walked in I could see my friend who was also our union delegate, standing inside the Tour Commanders office and I could also see in his face of not only concern but of disbelief.
Not mind you, I still have no idea who else responded from our command besides the three officers I already knew about. So I walked in the office and asked what was going on. That’s when my friend took me aside by the arrest room next to the Tour Commander’s office and informed me that they found our friend Kenny’s hat and memo book.
At first I wasn’t sure what he meant because Kenny had transferred to another command close by and I didn’t make the connection why he was telling me about his hat and memo book being found. Then I realized that what my friend was telling me.
Kenny responded from his post where he was assigned at the 33rd street PATH train station in New York City, and commandeered a NYC taxi with his rookie partner besides him and rushed to the World Trade Center.
That’s when it hit me… Knowing Kenny, he rushed in to aid with the evacuation with all the other police officers and firefighters when the towers fell on all of them. Everything now seem to be in slow motion inside my head.
I started to realize that not only so many civilians lives have been lost, but how many have we lost from my department? How many Police Officers did N.Y.P.D. lose? How many fire fighters did F.D.N.Y lose? I walked away in total disbelief and headed inside the locker room to get suited up.
I remember as I was putting on my uniform, I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that we had three officers missing from my command, including my friend Kenny from the P.A.T.H. command where he transferred just five months earlier from the Holland Tunnel after working there for over eight years.
After getting dressed I walked back to my Tour Commanders office for instruction when he told me to grab a vehicle and drive over to the staging area on the lower west side of New York City, just blocks away from where the World Trade Center once stood, and see the Commanding Officer assigned there for further instructions to assist in search and rescue.
I immediately took the keys to the patrol car and headed to New York City. My stomach was all twisted and I felt my body shake as I was driving through the tunnel, but it was fear that was causing the shakes…it was my adrenaline rushing throughout my body.
I wanted to do what I was meant to do my whole life….my job. As I exited out of the tunnel into New York City, I was overwhelmed how many emergency vehicles flooded the West Side Highway. It look like a nightmare of an endless traffic jam for at least 12 city blocks.
So many vehicles double and triple parked that it was hard trying to maneuver my patrol car between most of them as I made my way to staging area where the Port Authority Police Department was gearing up for search and rescue operations.
As I got out of my car, I looked down just a few blocks , all I could see was smoke…nothing but smoke. I walked inside the building where so many of our officers were waiting for instructions, I over heard one cop say to another that we lost a lot more officers then we thought. I also learned a new term…Ground Zero.