Remembering September 11 through the Eyes of Broward College Staff
Those who lived through it can remember where we were on September 11, 2001. Right after the first of two planes hit the World Trade Center in New York City, our world was forever impacted. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people and injured another 6,000. Even 15 years later, 9/11 remains vividly etched in our minds.
Institute of Public Safety professor Jack Hackett knows the devastation caused by the September 11 attacks more than most. At the time he was a detective lieutenant commander with the New York City Police Department.
When the events began to unfold, Hackett was at St. Johns University in Queens taking a class. His phone went off. It was his wife, who normally doesn’t call him, and she told him a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Hackett found it strange his office didn’t call him. He came to find out that was because the communication system was down.
Hackett responded to his office and quickly gathered personnel to join the other units.
“I’ve been involved in death investigations for quite a few years,” Hackett said. “This certainly was the worst I had ever seen.”
The atmosphere was chaotic. He can remember a debris field reaching seven stories high by the time he got there. Groups of fire fighters and police worked together to begin sifting through the ruin. Without proper equipment on site, the crews began digging by hand. They used five-gallon buckets from Home Depot and Lowe’s in an attempt to clear the areas where they felt people may have been buried. The difficult process required them to work day and night. Eventually, more people showed up with the machinery possible to help move the steel girders.
Hackett ultimately spent four months working at Ground Zero. He retired from the NYPD after 27 years in 2002 to work for the United Nations as an assistant chief in charge of investigations and forensic training. The “Brooklyn Boy” will never forget the tragedy and heartbreak stemming from September 11, but the native New Yorker takes pride in how the city has been able to rebuild.
“It’s a testament to not only people of New York, but the United States of America,” Hackett said. “We are resilient. We are not going to get knocked down and stay down. We are going to get up and forge ahead.”
To this day, Hackett still references 9/11 when discussing terrorism in his criminal investigation classes at Broward College. The students are also shown a short video about it, which sparks questions and conversation.
They talk about what is terrorism. What was their objective? Why the terrorists chose the World Trade Center and not a military installation? He infuses firsthand experiences to accurately convey what occurred in the aftermath of the attacks and the true nature of the job. Hackett is passing on his knowledge to effectively help usher in the next generation of crime scene investigators and forensic science technicians.
The Institute of Public Safety offers a wide range of programs within criminal justice beyond the typical Police Academy including polygraph analysis and crime scene technology. Many courses are hands-on and taught in a crime laboratory.