Ten Years Later: The September 11 Attacks
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New York City Police Department

Title: National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial
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The New York City Police Department (NYPD) responded en masse to the attacks of September 11, 2001. Police worked to rescue and evacuate those trapped in the World Trade Center complex and in doing so suffered their greatest casualties. They also tried to control traffic around the complex, with mixed levels of success. One major problem was the lack of coordination between the police and the firefighters, two departments that have traditionally had poor relations. Both police and firefighters tended to act independently, without coordinating with the other agency. Much of the bad feelings arose from the Fire Department City of New York (FDNY) belief that the NYPD was a political favorite, receiving more funds and personnel. Whatever the reason, the hostility between the two departments hindered operations at the World Trade Center complex on September 11.

Failures in the communication system also hindered the activities of the police. The radios refused to work around the World Trade Center, and what communication systems did work were soon overwhelmed by traffic. Police and others had to use cell phones to call family members and establish communications.

Casualties, lower among police than among the firefighters, were nevertheless high. Police lost 23 officers, including 1 woman. This loss paled beside that of the firefighters of the FDNY, but police losses were severe enough to cause a crisis of confidence. A demoralized police force had to be returned to normal police duties, a task that was the responsibility of Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik—who was generally successful. Kerik left office in January 2002, leaving much still to be done to reestablish the morale of the members of the NYPD. Later, when the 9/11 Commission questioned New York firefighters and police about their conduct on September 11, Kerik and the police became defensive, charging that the commission was unfairly second-guessing their actions.

Stephen E. Atkins


Further Reading
Smith, Dennis. Report from Ground Zero. New York: Viking, 2002; Harris, John, and Snodin, Michael, eds. Sir William Chambers, Architect to George III. New Haven, Conn.; London: Yale University Press, 1996; Lance, Peter. 1000 Years for Revenge: International Terrorism and the FBI; The Untold Story. New York: ReganBooks, 2003; O'Shaughnessy, Patrice. "Painful Days for Cops Who Won't Give Up." Daily News [New York], December 16, 2001, 28.
 

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