Rep. Val Demings: She witnessed 9/11 from the attitude of a police officer

A policewoman leans against a police motorcycle in front of a fountain.

Val Demings, now a Democratic Home member from Florida, was a member of the Orlando Police Division on Sept. 11, 2001.
(Val Demings)

Val Demings was the Orlando, Fla., Police Division’s captain in command of the division stationed on the metropolis’s airport — a magnet for household tourism as a result of it serves Disney’s theme parks — when phrase of the terrorist assaults landed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Uncertainty and concern swept the airport as officers scrambled to observe the Federal Aviation Administration order to floor all airplanes nationwide.

You are reading: Rep. Val Demings: She witnessed 9/11 from the attitude of a police officer

All of the sudden the airport’s long-standing safety protocols in opposition to assaults — checking luggage for bombs and weapons — appeared nugatory in opposition to the unthinkable risk of terrorists utilizing the planes themselves as weapons.

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Demings, in the midst of what could be a 27-year profession in legislation enforcement earlier than she ran for Congress in 2016 in an Orlando-based district, sat glued to the tv listening to the phrases of President George W. Bush. A Democrat, she had voted for Bush’s rival, Al Gore, within the contested 2000 presidential race that resulted in Florida’s famously cumbersome recount. However that was historical historical past as Demings discovered herself impressed and reassured by Bush’s phrases.

“I didn’t sit in entrance of my tv set … pondering, ‘That’s a Republican president; I’m not going to hearken to what he says,’” stated Demings, who’s now 64.

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However she regrets the rising polarization of politics since then. Though forces of hyperpartisanship had been constructing for years, she blames Donald Trump for making it far worse.

“The previous president made it OK to make every thing a political weapon, even moments of disaster,” stated Demings, who’s working for a U.S. Senate seat in Florida. “And I feel that’s shameful. That’s not who we’re as a nation.”

Demings, who served as Orlando’s police chief from 2007 to 2011, stated that the calamity of Sept. 11 didn’t change her sense {of professional} mission — she remained dedicated to holding folks secure — however that the character of the risk modified. She welcomed the formation of the Division of Homeland Safety. New instruments of legislation enforcement have been developed to cope with terrorist threats; some have been helpful years later when the division she previously led dealt with the mass capturing that killed 49 at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.

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