By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD
Ramblings: 9/11/2001 for June 26th, 2016
9-11-2001: Just about everyone can tell you where they were on 9-11-2001 when four airplanes were hijacked and two planes slammed into the World Trade Centers. It was a Tuesday and the temperature was forecast for mid-70’s. I was scheduled to work the field on day watch as a supervisor. I was preparing for Roll Call when the first plane, American Airlines, flight #11 slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 5:46 AM PST. As usual the TV was on the news in the Watch Commander’s (WC’s) office, the off-going watch wanted to know if they will hit traffic on the way home. The WC’s Office soon filled with officers watching the horror on TV. Most were wondering what caused a plane to veer off course and hit a building in New York. At 6:03 the second plane, United Airlines flight #175 slammed into the South Tower. The wondering stopped.
We were at war with an unknown enemy! The speculation started on who could do such a thing. Some guessed correctly that it was the work of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
We went to Roll Call and the room was quiet. Hardened cops couldn’t believe what they were seeing on the television. We had an abbreviated roll call and hit the streets. We knew that what happened in New York was going to affect everyone. I headed to the bathroom, figuring it might be six hours before I had another chance.
When we cleared for patrol, we were immediately hit with a barrage of suspicious package
calls. People suddenly saw suspicious packages that they had probably passed a dozen times before on their way to work. I personally handled three bomb calls alone. One was an empty box on Hollywood Boulevard, another was a large cylinder attached to a power pole on Highland Avenue.
America was suddenly waking up to terrorism on our own turf. I raced from call to call for about three hours when I was directed to come to the station. The LAPD had gone in Tactical Alert and each division activated their command post. I was a member of the Hollywood Division command post cadre. I spent the rest of my shift in the command post.
Months and even years after 9-11 we responded to possible terrorist sightings. One Hollywood Hills resident saw a Middle Eastern man asking how to get to the Hollywood Sign, normally a common occurrence. We sent a police car to check him out. Nothing!
Because of terrorism, airport lines have caused hours long delays. It now takes longer to go through the screening process at the airport than it takes to fly to Las Vegas. You can’t even go to a baseball game without being screened.
Bombs have been around for a long time but now they are in the everyday activities of citizens.