As a federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms officer on 9/11, Richmond Police Chief Larry Brock remembers special ATF units being dispatched to Ground Zero that they worked as a crime scene.
Brock was working in a small London, Ky. office with one other employee when terrorists flew hijacked airliners into the Twin Towers of New York City’s World Trade Center.
“It was a two-man ATF office and (his coworker) called me into his office, and he had the news on TV showing the first tower that was on fire,” Brock said. “Then I saw the plane fly into the second building.”
His first reaction was disbelief.
“Once you realized that this was not an accident, that these were intentional acts, I just felt anger more than anything,” he said. “I got some calls from friends of mind where I (previously) worked in Cleveland. They had concerns about the flight that ultimately crashed in Pennsylvania. There was some initial fear that it was headed toward Cleveland.”
ATF teams were sent to investigate the crash sites, he said.
As for the country’s current safety conditions, Brock believes they have improved, if only because of the information given about terrorism after the attacks.
“I think we’re probably safer now, if for no other reason the heightened awareness that the public has,” he said. “I think prior to (9/11), the public and the nation as a whole was somewhat complacent and didn’t think this could happen to us. I don’t think we can hold that view anymore.
“The public now is more vigilant,” the police chief said. “Some of the extra security measures have helped and redirecting some of the federal agencies toward terrorism has helped make a difference.”
Brock said he has a strong respect for the men and women who responded to Ground Zero.
“In addition to all the civilians (who were killed), many first responders also went down with the towers,” he said.
“That was, on a grand scale, what happens on a smaller scale throughout the country ever day as far as first responders are concerned. They run toward scenes that everybody else is running away from. They lost their lives doing the job they signed up to do.”
Ronica Shannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 624-6608.