NYPD Police Officer Moira Smith was the first officer to report the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 when she saw the first plane strike the first tower of the World Trade Center. Smith, a 13-year veteran, ran into the towers and immediately began assisting in the evacuation.
Displaying outward calm, Officer Smith was last seen heading back into the South Tower to help evacuate more people, and in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of that tower a brief radio transmission from a female officer calling for help was recorded and later identified as Smith.
Officer Smith’s remains were recovered in March 2002, and her shield and ’13’ collar brass (seen in the background and indicating her assignment to the 13th Precinct), are preserved in the 9/11 Museum in New York City.
She was the only NYPD female police officer to perish at Ground Zero. She was survived by her 2-year-old daughter and her husband.
Her coolness under pressure was remembered by a survivor, Martin Glynn:
“The mass of people exiting the building felt the calm assurance that they were being directed by someone in authority who was in control of the situation. Her actions even seemed ordinary, even commonplace. She insulated the evacuees from the awareness of the dangerous situation they were in, with the result that everything preceded smoothly.”
An extensive biography was written on Moira and it includes interviews with her husband and daughter. You can read that here.
Travis Yates is a writer and editor at Law Officer. An ILEETA Trainer of the Year, his Seminars in Risk Management & Officer Safety have been taught across the United States & Canada. Major Yates is a current Doctoral Student in Strategic Leadership and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is the Director of Training for Law Officer (www.lawofficer.com) and the Founder of the Courageous Leadership Institute (www.courageousleader.org), providing leadership consulting and training to law enforcement around the world.