A Cop's-Eye View of the Disaster
We made our lists and tried to make the phone calls. It made me happy to call the wife of a security guard to tell her he was all right. I figured that if I told her that I was a detective she would immediately think I was calling to tell her that her husband had been killed, so I got it all out quick, "Your husband is OK, Mrs. Hugo. This is Detective Miller." I was glad that I didn't have to make any calls that went the other way. The few happy calls were not enough to buoy anyone's mood.
I called the precinct where I had worked in uniform and found out a cop that I know is missing. He was a good man. I hope they find him. We got word that upward of 50 cops and over 200 firefighters were missing. I took a break and went outside for some air.
As I gazed into the afternoon sun, a man came up to the security guards who kept the uninjured from wandering into the triage area. They tried to wave him off. He seemed very insistent. They called me over. He had a flyer that he had printed, with pictures of his fiancée. He saw my detective shield. He asked if I had seen her in the emergency room. I had not. He asked me to post the flyer in the hospital. He was going to all the hospitals. I looked at the description. She worked on the 92nd floor of the north tower. I took the flyer. I walked away before he saw me start to sob. I took the flyer to the guy taking down all the names of the injured.
I went into the lobby and sat down with a fellow cop. He handed me a Times from a pile of newspapers he had found. It had always been a joke with us that he read the Post and I read the Times; that he was straightforward and conservative and I was a liberal who liked big words. I thought I might lose myself for a few minutes in one section or another of the newspaper. The New York Times comes out very early in the morning, long before any planes crashed. I had to put the paper down; it was about a different city than mine.
Lucas Miller is an NYPD detective.