.I'd like to say a few quiet words in praise of a group of people who are very hard to like -- the New York City police force. I spend a fair amount of time in the Apple and I'm here to tell you that they've got that NYC 'tude: As a rule, they're angry, abrupt, and none too dainty about their language.
But when it matters, they're everything they should be.
Obviously, I was inspired to write this post by the Times Square incident when a street vendor noticed smoke coming from a parked SUV, flagged down a policeman, and the cop knew what to do and did it and another national trauma was averted. But I wasn't surprised by that one whit.
I already knew that "the city so nice they named it twice" was not only the most appealing target in the USA for terrorists but the best prepared because I was driving there when what looked at the time to be a terrorist incident occurred. It was actually a steam line explosion that sent a terrifying flume of smoke into the air, but it made me feel a whole lot better about the people paid to protect us. Or at least those in New York City.
Here's how it happened:
I was in Manhattan and headed out of town when I stopped at a red light. There was a cop in the intersection directing traffic. I stopped and, idly staring forward, thought, Gee, this is a hard-charging town; everybody is walking really fast. Then I thought, and they're all walking in the same direction!
Everybody was hurrying to the right, uptown. The cop turned left, downtown, in the direction of the explosion, and said, "Shit."
Then he ran straight towards the explosion.
That's the stuff. A year or two after 9/11, there was a major terrorist exercise in Harrisburg, PA. Because it was the first such exercise ever attempted, they began simply. The state police and other first responders were told it was coming, but not when, and the general outlines of the scenario. Then they ran it.
Nobody showed up. Out here in the hinterlands, nobody takes terrorism seriously. It can't happen here, they think, and they're probably right. In NYC they take it very seriously indeed, because they know it can and has and probably will. And they respond the way you hope to God your protectors would if it were your life on the line.
So, yeah, the NYPD . . . nobody you'd want to tangle with. But good guys when it counts.