Police Recognition Day
March 4, 2003
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5 foot 1.5 inches Police Officer
alone carried 6 foot Police Officer
up two floors to safety!
Police Hero Judith Hernandez
Our legendary Rotary Club honored Police Officer Judith Hernandez from Police Service Area 4, one of New York’s Finest! Police Officer Judith Hernandez was awarded the Medal of Honor. On September 11, 2001, Police Officer Judith Hernandez, along with Police Officers Christopher Castro and Steven Oemcke, all assigned to PSA 4, were near City Hall, when the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Hernandez along with her partners went to the Tower’s sub levels to evacuate civilians. The officers heedless of their own safety, continued to put their lives on the line. Upon noticing civilian injuries getting worse, the officers moved even deeper into the complex, rendering first aid and physically removing those unable to walk on their own. This distinct act of valor realized its peril when the South Tower crumbled, trapping them inside and seriously injuring Police Officer Oemcke. Realizing that her partner was unaccounted for, Police Officer Hernandez searched for him in the total darkness of the debris cloud. She finally located him where he had been blown through the air and down the concourse hallway at the bottom of an escalator, dazed and wracked with pain. Clutching onto her belt, Police Officer Hernandez who is only 5 feet 1.5 inches tall then carried her 6 feet fellow officer alone, step-by-step, up nearly two stories of inoperable escalator stairs, to where Police Officer Castro was waiting so they could escort him to safety.
This was our annual Police Recognition Day, sponsored by ADT Security Service. It was characterized by significant representation from the New York City Police Department and an extended dais occupied by prominent members of the Club and Police Department. President Silvio Amori opened the meeting and introduced Officer Carl Dixon, who sang the "Star-Spangled Banner," solo, accompanied by Bernie Wytko at the piano. Lillian Coury offered the day's invocation. Dr. Jeffrey Burkes introduced the day's speaker, Chief of the New York City Police Department, Joseph J. Esposito, who, before beginning his speech on safety, thanked the Club for the over 1.5 million dollars it had raised and distributed in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He pointed out that last year there was a 5% decrease in the seven major crime areas and a 70% decrease over the last ten years, due primarily to officers on the street. In response to 9/11 Commissioner Kelly has introduced anti-terrorist measures including: a worldwide focus and intelligence effort on terrorists and how their activities might affect New York, education of police officers in biochemical attacks, public announcement systems, a terrorism hotline, and activities such as the Apple Group, terrorism training, and community efforts.
Police Officer Judith Hernandez was awarded the Medal of Honor for the extraordinary life saving courage she demonstrated after the attack of 9/11.
Written by Peter Brizard
Photographs by Matts Ingemanson & Lou DiPaolo
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