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Bill Ryan
  Irish Voice  


Background
Originally from Inwood, New York. Mother emigrated from Co. Roscommon, father emigrated from Co. Dublin. Resides in Woodlawn, New York.

Family
Wife Elizabeth, three-year-old Liam.

NYPD background
"My dad was a cop. It's not something I always wanted to do, and my dad didn't encourage me. But I grew up watching him on TV and reading about him in newspapers and I thought, 'What's cooler than that?' I became a cop in January of 1984, and I've loved it every day since."

Describe your September 11 experience
"I was at a union meeting in Howard Beach when it happened. It was primary day, our union was backing Peter Vallone and I was going on his security detail. My friend Alan told me a plane hit the World Trade Center; we didn't know if it was an accident. Then my wife called and said a second plane hit, so we knew it was no accident. I jumped in my car, and by the time I got into Manhattan the towers had already collapsed.

"The fire and smoke were just all over the place. There was such shock on people's faces. Our unit is the one that goes through and investigates burned down buildings, so we got our jumpsuits on and got to work. It was pretty indescribable.

"We started doing the digging, and I took a fall on the 12th. I broke my wrist, but I didn't realize it. So many people down there are working hurt. I didn't report the injury right away; it didn't feel that bad. It started to really bother me on the 30th, so I went to triage and had it x-rayed." What have you been doing since?

"I've been on desk duty since the x-ray. My big job is house of worship fires. Someone tried to burn a mosque in Brooklyn, so I've been working on that. I haven't been digging much since the 30th. I've been running leads with the FBI, and doing support services for the guys who are digging. I'm also investigating the Wall Street bombing, which I was very involved in before the 11th."

How do you view your job post-September 11?
"The public have been very positive and I appreciate that. It's funny, you're a hero for a short time in any profession - in this one it's even shorter - and I just wonder what's going to come that will take the shine off our halos right now.

"Right now people are happy with us, but two months ago it was different. I'm very aware of it. The one positive thing that I think will come out of this is that people will realize how dangerous this job is, and how important we are to them."

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