In the days following the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, Richard Wells, Jr., the current police chief, received a call for help – not from anyone in Milton – but from a friend in the NYPD Command Center.
The voice on the other end of the phone was Inspector Jim Rogers, who was assigned to the Commissioners Office, and he was in need of supplies. Rogers and Wells attended the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia together in 1997 and remained close friends.
Just two days after the attacks, the New York Police Department was already in desperate need of professional filter masks, uniforms, helmets, boots, socks, underwear, toothbrushes and personal utilities.
“To be honest, when he first called me I said to him, ‘you are in the NYPD and you are calling me in Milton, MA for help?’” Wells recalled. “I could tell from the tone of his voice this was serious.”
The resourceful Wells remembers sitting in his office wondering whom to contact. He eventually reached out to his fellow officers in Milton, the Milton Selectmen and people in numerous police departments in metro Boston.
They set a goal to fully equip a task force of 500 NYPD officers working around Ground Zero, and with much collaboration accomplished that objective.
The greatest challenge is gathering the gear was finding 500 filter masks.
“I remember Curry Hardware of Quincy stepped up big time and found a warehouse in Palmer, Mass.,” said Wells.
A few days later, Wells, Lt. Bill West and Braintree Deputy Chief Russ Jenkins, took the first two trucks to New York. They drove at night to avoid traffic and brought to supplies to Rogers’ house because of security restrictions around Ground Zero.
Wells said weekly supply trips were taken to New York for the next month.
“This story began with a friendship between two police officers, one from a small town and the other from the largest city in the US,” said Wells, summing up the events following 9/11. “The real story here is what so many from Milton and our neighboring police departments did in the face of the greatest tragedy of our lives.”