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September-25-01

The Tragedy Caused by Terrorists

Chief Penny E. Harrington, National Center for Women and Policing Director; SAIC Margaret Moore, NCWP Assistant Director

For the first time in the memory of most of us, a foreign enemy has attacked the United States on our soil. This event is sure to change the lives of each of us. Certainly, the families and friends of the thousands of people who were killed have been most directly affected. But there are many thousands, indeed millions more people who also are directly affected.

Most police officers have had to deal with disasters at some time in their careers. However, no one has ever been faced with a disaster that has involved this magnitude of death and destruction. For months, police officers, firefighters, medical workers and many others will be involved in dealing with the aftermath. They must face the horror that most of us will never see-the burned and mangled bodies of thousands of people at the base of that rubble. The lives of these rescue workers will be forever changed. They will undoubtedly experience emotional trauma from what they are seeing.

This is a time for all of us to reflect upon the service that we receive from these brave officers. Day in and day out, most of the police officers and firefighters in this nation work to protect us and assist us in times of crisis. They seldom receive praise for their work, and, in fact, are often criticized. And yet, when we are in crisis, they are the ones to step forward and put their lives on the line, as they did so bravely last week in New York and Arlington County, VA

As we move forward over the next months and years, let us keep this in mind. Police officers are the ones who are on the front lines today and will be there tomorrow and the next day. They need our support and our gratitude for a job well done.

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