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The Impact of 9/11 on One NYC Cop
CBN.com "She stood before me in the middle of the frenzied intersection, a total wreck. Her pants soaked through from the fire hoses, her entire body covered in white powder as she spun around in circles, confused, in shock and unsure of which direction to go."
This was the foreground scene before Officer Suzanne Brenneman, as she gazed towards the smoldering World Trade Center wreckage from her post directing traffic twenty blocks away.
September 11 th started out as a beautiful day, skies clear, breeze wafting through the open windows of the police academy classroom where Brenneman and 600 other recruits sat. With only two-months of Academy training under their belts, these men and women were about to be called on in a way they would have never dreamed when they enlisted.
“We heard a plane flying low, and everyone looked out the window because we didn’t normally hear planes, the airports aren’t nearby,” says Brenneman. “Soon someone came in and told us what happened and told us we were going to be mobilized. At that point we barely new what that meant.”
“I prayed, not knowing what to pray for,” says Brenneman.
With a newly-issued helmet in hand, Brenneman was ordered to direct both the chaotic traffic turmoil of incoming emergency vehicles and terrified New Yorkers, rushing to safety and loved ones, frantically seeking the stability they knew only minutes before.
“I remember when I finally did get home that first night, I was still hearing the sirens in my head,” says Brenneman.
And such days would continue in the weeks following.
With long hours and dysfunctional public transportation, home to Brenneman quickly became the Police Academy’s gym where she and other emergency personnel slept, ate, and greatfully accepted the many donations that came in.
“I was amazed at how much people sent – food, socks… People would do anything they could to help,” says Brenneman.
That feeling of helpfulness, coupled with shock, created a new persona for New York in the weeks following.
“It wasn’t so much fear afterwards, just a sadness throughout the city,” says Brenneman. “It was almost quiet except for sirens, with no background music in stores for the first week or two. No one was yelling, no music blasting, just sirens and police radios.”
Much has changed for New York as a result of 9/11. While the common noise of the city has returned, there are the underlying effects of tragedy that play a part in everyday life and the nation as a whole.
Officer training tactics throughout the country now include a focus on antiterrorism. Where it was just touched on before, teams are now brought in to instruct officers on how to deal with terrorist threats.
“Any time there is a report of a suitcase left in the middle of the street, you wonder ‘who put it there?’ And we never before would have thought of that,” says Brenneman.
Though the city lifestyle is primarily back to normal, many New Yorkers still display the effects of a matured appreciation for America and for life.
“It’s amazing how people pulled together. We still see signs up thanking us, “says Brenneman. “People have realized what matters.”
“ New York (City) looks bigger to me now. We aren’t a bubble of just New York and it’s problems, we are affected by terrorists,” says Brenneman. “I’ve realized how little is in our control, and we just need to close our eyes, pray, and thank Him for looking out for us.”
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