Remembering 9-11: MPD officers answered the call to help in NYC after 9/11
Looking back and reflecting on 9-11 twenty years later
MADISON – Marcus Adams, today working as Detective Sergeant in Madison Police Department, was among the eight police employees who assisted in New York City after terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Although 20 years have passed, Adams readily remembers learning that he could volunteer in NYC. “Gosh, every cop in America wanted to go to New York to help out. I put my name in the hat right off the bat,” he said.
The Madison police employees who volunteered were Adams, Jim Cooke, Jason Fox, Clayton Jordan, the late Wayne Kamus, Trey Street, the late Adam Vaughn and Steve Wilkerson.
The Madison officers needed three patrol cars and a van to transport themselves and all their equipment. After an 18-hour drive to NYC, the Madison officers went to the Javits Convention Center. “We showed our IDs to check in and got some rest. We got our assignments from the Javits center,” Adams said.
NYPD officers were surprised and thrilled that the Madison entourage came to help. A major difference exists between the atmosphere of police work, then and now. “It’s night and day. Everybody came together then,” Adams said.
The Empire State Building was their first assignment. “We worked regular shifts to relieve NYPD officers to give them a break. A couple (of us) checked IDs for employees,” Adams said. The public could not enter because of bomb threats from overseas.
At this point, the Madison officers stayed at the Novatel motel and could see Times Square from their 14th-floor room.
Ground Zero was the saddest view that they witnessed. “People had written in dust around the perimeter . . . anger at Bin Laden or ‘Sorry for the loss,” Adams said. They found a deceased NY firefighter in full gear and a person’s leg.
“It was an in-your-face symbol of the emotion,” Adams said.
Contrasting to usual interaction, pedestrians walked up to the Madison officers and thanked them. “Lots of people thanking us and all of the public support, not normal is this job.”
The officers discussed returning to NYC but procrastinated until finally in October 2020. Jason Fox, Clayton Jordan and Adams visited to experience the Ground Zero Tour and 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
“My gosh. Listen . . . I thought the memorial was the footprint of the tower, but the actual footprint of the towers is open to walk around. When you down into the memorial, you see the steel beams and look upward through the facade of a tower,” Adams said. They observed a crushed firetruck, photos of the murdered people and mementos from the towers.
Adams said approximately 2,977 people were killed and 6,000 injured.
“I was speechless. I’ve been trying to put some closure since we went,” Adams said. “They (the designers) nailed it. It’s an amazing place. If you ever get a chance to go to the memorial, go. You’ll never regret it.”
“In my 36 years of this (police) work, our visit stands above all of the regular work. It was amazing to help out . . . something special and unique in my career. I’m proud to be a tiny dot in all of that.”
For Jason Fox, visiting the 9/11 memorials took him back “to remembering how the country was so together at the time in 2001. Everybody was together — no matter what color or what political or sexual affiliation.”
However, that common bond has disintegrated. “The way the world is today, everybody was their own personal self-agenda to care of themselves instead of worrying about other people,” Fox said.
Fox has no regrets in volunteering in NYC. “It was what I consider a privilege. In the grand scheme of things, we (Madison police officers) didn’t do anything. The people of America did. I will forever be grateful to Madison for allowing me to go up there and offer what assistance I could,” Fox said.
“I just want everybody to stand by their comment in 2001, ‘I’ll never forget.’ We need to get back to a nation that’s behind each other — one nation under God — and be the country that we’re supposed to be,” Fox said.