New York Daily News

August 16, 2002

Hero's welcome from crowd


'A THRILL FOR HIL? Sen. Hillary Clinton is given demonstration of rescue lift at rally by police and firefighters yesterday.

New Yorkers enthusiastically backed the thousands of cops and firefighters who jammed Times Square yesterday to demand pay raises.

Whether they were midtown office workers on their lunch hour, curious passersby or a group of grateful survivors ofr the World Trade Center attack, they agreed: New York's Finest and Bravest deserve what they're asking for.

Isabel Muñoz, 36, of Valley Stream, L.I., was one of a group of workers at Blue Cross Blue who came out in the 90-degree heat to show gratitude.

"We saw so many go up and know they didn't come down," Muñoz said. "They helped us out that day. They guided us out of the danger. They did everything possible. They deserve the raise they are asking for."

Co-worker Lina Morales, 35, of Queens agreed.

"We wanted to join the guys out here. It's the least we could do," she said. "We might not be standing here if it wasn't for them."

Giving the cops and firefighters more money isn't just about the heroics of Sept. 11, many said.

"They have the toughest job in the country," said Bill Fitzpatrick, 50, a security manager from Long Island. "police and firemen risk their lives every day, but people who clean the subway make more."

'How long?'

Some wondered when the city would do its uniformed services justice.

"Even when the city was supposedly doing well, the departments weren't getting decent raises," said Steve Fitzpatrick, a 31-year-old Off-Track Betting assistant manager from Queens. "How long do these poor guys have to wait?"

The prospect of raising taxes to help foot the bill for those pay hikes didn't raise many eyebrows.

"You can't put a price on their job," said Devon Mitchell, 28, an aircraftr mechanic from the Bronx. "If they have to raise taxes, fine. New Yorkers won't gripe about extra taxes to pay them."

Still, in the minds of some, the World Trade Center attacks loomed large.

"Firemen and police did an incredible job on 9/11 and lost a lot of people," said Brian Chiu, 18, an office assistant from Brooklyn. "All they are asking for is decent pay."