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On September 11, 2001, every police officer in the NYPD was deployed to work. That included recruits.

Captain Roger Sankerdial, now 16 years into his service and working out of the 114th precinct in Astoria, Queens, shares the experience of being deployed on September 11, a mere ten weeks after beginning his police training, with A&E writer Adam Janos.

Traffic was frozen. I didn’t have a real police uniform yet, but I had a traffic vest that said “police” on it so I stuffed that in my windshield. Everyone was trying to get out and I’m with this group of people—tens of cars and growing—trying to gather and go in. My heart’s racing.

When I got to the field it was just chaos. It was starting to get dark and from the field you could see the plume rising and the air was full of haze. They’re gathering us, and when they could fill a bus, they’d send it out. It was a hodgepodge of buses out there: Some were MTA buses, but it seemed like some were just old school buses.

That first night I worked all night: 17 hours, maybe. It looked like it was snowing with the dust and soot gathering on our hats, and we’d brush each other off regularly. Whenever I had a break I’d wash my face and put water in my hair, just to get the grey out of it. I coughed a lot.

We spent weeks on traffic control, allowing the first responders to do their work while we guarded the perimeter.

Within a few days they had us on the West Side Highway at Vesey Street, controlling traffic right there at the perimeter. Every single time a first responder was found, or remains of a first responder was found, an ambulance would be led by a procession of motorcycles and we would salute the ambulance as it went by.

Day to day, the turnaround time between my shifts was on average four hours. Six hours, maximum.

Full story at A&E.com.