Every time I read the after-action reports of one of the Police Department’s anti-crime task forces, I find myself reading quickly to the end to make sure that the department’s toughest men and women survived their encounters unscathed. The phone calls from one of the two chiefs reporting an injured police officer or fire fighter are the worst ones I get as mayor.
Of the 2,819 official casualties in the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, more than 400 were fire fighters, paramedics, and police officers who responded from places of safety and rushed to the disaster. Mayor Rudy Giuliani attended more than 200 funerals that year, many of them for public safety personnel.
Time eventually dulls the sharpest edges of painful memories, but five years have not yet done enough to soften the ache of the attacks on New York and Washington. They have, however, been long enough to remind us that the jobs of some of our neighbors are more dangerous than ours.