Kane County Remembers 9/11: Sheriff Pat Perez, Badge #911
Editor’s Note: As the years pass since Sept. 11, 2001, the number of news stories and ceremonies marking the anniversary diminish, and our memories sometimes fade. In remembrance of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and in honor of those whose lives were lost, we asked Kane County officeholders to reflect on where they were and what the events of that day have meant to them, to Kane County residents and to America. This is the first of a two-part series. The second will be published on Sept. 11, 2014.
Sheriff Pat Perez
I was a day-shift patrol sergeant on 9/11/2001, and was on duty in the Elburn area. My wife called me and said she was watching the news and saw the first jet fly into one of the World Trade Center towers. She was just in New York with her sister the previous month and went up in the towers while visiting, so this really hit her. A few minutes later, she said, “Oh my God, another plane hit the towers!” I told her I needed to go and I’d call her later.
I turned on WBBM on my car radio, and a few minutes later they reported a third plane hit the Pentagon. I pulled my car off the road and said a short prayer. For the first time in my life, our nation was under attack, and I needed to find out why.
I drove to our substation in Aurora and Sgt. Randall had a television on, and I arrived just in time to see the towers fall. That afternoon, the sheriff called a staff meeting, and we discussed being on high alert and we would be “all hands on deck.”
Since then, we lost our innocence as a country. Dirty bombs, IEDs, secondary explosive devices and terrorist groups such as al Qaeda entered the world of law enforcement. Intelligence sharing, training and preparation have made major advancements since the day of that cowardly attack.
When I became sheriff in 2006, I chose the badge number 911 in memory of the police, firefighters, EMTs and civilians who lost their lives on 9/11. I hope people never forget this day, and realize that the petty bickering that goes on in our society should be replaced by unity, and are reminded of the brave first responders who ran to trouble while everyone else ran away.