American Police Beat

Nov. 20, 2011
by Cynthia Brown

Our Banner Still Waves    
NYPD cops Richie Hartigan and Rich Miller raised the first flag at Ground Zero just 24 hours after the planes hit the towers. (Photo credit: Det. Bill McNulty, NYPD)  

Remarkable Courage

by Hans Marticiuc

All of the issues associated with law enforcement officers' wages, benefits and working conditions took a back seat yesterday to what was arguably the darkest day in our nation's history. The terrorist attacks that occurred on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 temporarily took away the breath out of the world.

As the world watched the events unfold in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania, we heard the accounts of countless acts of heroism by civilians, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and military personnel. Those of us in the police culture paid particularly close attention to the reports surrounding the efforts of law enforcement officers in New York during the September 11 tragedy. Our attentions focused on the numerous media accounts regarding the unbelievably heroic lifesaving acts of New York City police officers. Their focused attention to duty, along with that of firefighters and other emergency service personnel, demonstrated to the world how public safety professionals respond and help others even if it requires them to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Outside of the police union world in departments other than the New York Police Department, most officers don't know that the police officers in New York, via their Union, have been locked in a major contract battle with the administration of their city for the past several years. The New York Police Department is the largest law enforcement agency in the United States. The department has 40,000 officers who have the responsibility of keeping order in what is probably the most significant city in the world as it relates to the financial stability of every economy in existence.

Based on the unbelievably brave response of the officers of the New York City Police Department on September 11, the lack of a contract, combined with the contentious relationship with the administration of the City of New York, meant nothing. As of today, September 12, it appears that the loss of life in New York will be horrific. Early reports have speculated that there could be well over 50 police officers killed in the World Trade Center attack. If that is the case, it will eclipse the total number of officers killed in the line-of-duty in most department's entire existence.

The world changed forever on September 11, and our brother and sister officers in New York demonstrated to the world what dedication, sacrifice and duty is all about. Accordingly, the very real dangers law enforcement officers have traditionally faced have been greatly expanded as a result of yesterday's horrendous acts in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania.

Our nation will be made stronger as a result of the tragic and unprecedented events on September 11. Therefore, all aspects of our culture, as well as our responsibilities as law enforcement officers, will be expanded in order to better prepare us for service on the new millennium battlefield that is clearly now in our backyard, too.

The corporate world has already begun to come to the aid of law enforcement officers and firefighters from New York who perished in yesterday's terrorist act. It is also time for the entire law enforcement community to contact the City of New York Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and come to their aid to step up and make the commitment to honor their members efforts during our nation's darkest hours.

God bless America, and may all of us care for and comfort the families of our brother and sister law enforcement officers, firefighters, military personnel and civilians who suffered tragic deaths at the hands of cowards who committed the ultimate hate crime against the people of our nation.

Hans Marticiuc is president of the Houston Police Officers' Union.