GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s been nearly 20 years since the September 11 attacks claimed the lives of almost 3,000 people, inflicting a lasting fear of terrorism.
Hijacked U.S. commercial flights bound for the West Coast intentionally crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. In the months and years following the attacks, defense training and spending changed drastically.
“Well I think the concern about international terrorism because much more evident on a more local level,” said Deputy Greenfield Police Chief, Mark Williams.
“We certainly started thinking a lot more about homegrown terrorism. Realistically, I think that’s a bigger threat to an area like Greenfield than international, necessarily,” he said.
Deputy Chief Williams told 22News, before 9/11 officers didn’t think about things like risk assessments or vulnerabilities in Greenfield. The September 11th attacks changed how they perceived potential threats.
Williams said, “There’s been a change in training. Not just at the initial academy level but also in specialized training for veteran officers as well, and ongoing training throughout their career.”
Back in 2001, Philippe Simon of Shelburne Falls worked a block away from the World Trade Center. He told 22News, he didn’t agree with the nation’s response, characterized by heightened suspicion of non-Americans in the U.S., following the September 11th attacks. He said since 9/11, “our fear has harmed us more” after the fact.
“I think it’s a little bit over board and what it does is it takes away our national identity to a point, our national personality,” said Simon. “America is a place where we have a democratic process, where we have freedom of speech, we speak our minds. We also have freedom of movement.”
But in the wake of 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security was born. It merged 22 governmental agencies into one, including the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
In 2003, the Federal government’s first post-September 11 budget directed nearly $40 billion to homeland security, up from $19.5 billion in 2002.
The President’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request of nearly $52 billion for DHS has almost tripled since the 9/11 attacks.