Duane Hampton

Hillsborough Police Chief Duane Hampton

It’s a memory seared into our brains. The News of Orange County reached out to several current leaders in community services that were most affected by the events of 9/11/01, to get their thoughts on that tragic day, what it has meant to their careers, and what they feel looking back. 

Duane Hampton

Chief, Hillsborough Police Department

What were you doing on Sept. 11, 2001?  I was a police officer for Durham Police and was assigned to the Motorcycle Unit. I was actually teaching class that morning in the lobby of the old DPD HQ, and our class got interrupted when we found out about the attack. We were all sitting in the room watching it on TV. Right after the first tower fell, several commanders came in and we were all sent out to different locations to provide presence and monitor for any suspicious activity. I and partner spent the next few days sitting at the downtown post office.

What do you remember most about that time? During the initial days, it was just the uncertainty. Everyone was worried there would be more attacks. Everyone was trying to figure out what and how we could protect things like water sources, infrastructure, etc. Everyone wanted some kind of action and assurance.,.. and it was hard to figure out what to do. Everyone wanted to do something… but for the most part there was nothing we could do to change what happened.

Did the events of 9/11/01 have any affect on your career path? Honestly, for me not really. I had been on the job for six years and was already on my path. I guess it helped to reaffirm my choice to serve. It definitely impacted how we think about some things and improved how we train and plan to respond to catastrophic incidents like that.

Twenty years later, what do you think about now when you look back on that day? One of the things that strikes me the most is how everyone seemed to come together after that happened. For a number of years it seemed like everyone was in it together – we were all Americans. There was a lot of pride, positivity, and support for each other. There were so many stories and examples of people for all walks of life and different backgrounds coming together. Law enforcement especially saw a period of significant support. It was a sharp contrast to all the divisiveness and negativity that seems to be in our society today. I do not ever want to experience another 9/11 type disaster, but I would love to see folks start coming back together.