City leaders reflect on anniversary of Sept. 11

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published September 7, 2011

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On Sept. 11, 2001, two days before the start of Troy Daze, Troy Community Affairs Director Cindy Stewart sat in the regular weekly meeting with heads of various city departments. She planned to go to Boulan Park as soon as it was over to oversee the myriad details that went into putting on the popular city-sponsored four-day festival, which drew tens of thousands of people.

Her plans changed fast.

As Troy city leaders, with the rest of the country and the world, watched and listened in shock as the events of that fateful day unfolded, they had to make a decision.

Should they cancel Troy Daze?

“Every municipality was thinking of the safety of their own city,” Stewart said. “We called a meeting with police, fire and public works. We all agreed it was in the best interest of the city to cancel.”

It wasn’t easy, but Stewart said that the food vendors, midway ride operators and others understood.

“Everybody came together to help,” Stewart said. She noted that the majority, if not all, of the entertainers and food and ride vendors simply agreed to change their contracts to be valid for the next year.

Stewart announced that the festival was cancelled to the media, including the Troy Times, resulting in a last-minute change to that week’s Troy Times edition, set to go to press minutes after the announcement was made.

The naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens, which had been part of the Troy Daze festivities, went on at Troy City Hall with stepped up security Sept. 15, 2001.

More than 30 people took the Oath of Allegiance. “It was beautiful,” Stewart said. “It went off without a hitch.”

“They were so excited to be U.S. citizens and so afraid for the country,” Stewart continued. “They were happy, sad, every emotion. We kept it (the ceremony) alive that year.”

“Canceling Troy Daze was a good decision based on the facts at the time,” Troy Police Chief Gary Mayer. “It didn’t seem right to have an event like that when such a tragedy happened.”

Mayer served as police captain at the time, under Police Chief Charles Craft. It was a doubly tragic day for the Troy police, as the department got word that day that officer Charles Mulvihill had died of complications following a heart attack.

Mayer said that over the past 10 years, the federal government has made sure that all law enforcement departments have been extensively trained in the Incident Command System, which is under the auspices of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We were ahead of the game,” Mayer said. “We were and are well-trained and equipped.”

Since Sept. 11, Mayer said, law enforcement agencies routinely share information among municipalities and with the FBI, and vice versa.

“There’s not the idea that you don’t share information,” Mayer said. “And the FBI said they realize they don’t do it alone, and that local law enforcement are most likely to come across something suspicious.”

Security concerns in Troy and in general, since Sept. 11, include military recruiting centers, shopping centers, cellphone towers, company world headquarters, water treatment facilities, and schools and colleges, Mayer said.

The key he said, as the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11 approaches, and continually, is to “react without over-reacting.”

Mayer wouldn’t disclose any extra steps or precautions the Troy police would take as the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaches, but said no alerts have been issued locally.

“There’s nothing to cause concern,” he added.

 

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