By Greg Mellen
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge
He’ll always remember the acid taste of the air, the blank looks of devastation on the faces of people combing through rubble looking for loved ones — and the sight of bodies plummeting from upper floors.
A successful executive at Morgan Stanley at the time, Saunders was at the base of the World Trade Center after an early morning meeting. He witnessed American Airlines Flight 11 hurtling into the North Tower of the complex, followed 17 minutes later by United Airlines Flight 175 crashing into the South Tower.
There in the swirl of chaos and dust in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the World Trade Center, Bradley Saunders’ life was utterly and irrevocably changed. Not broken, but fundamentally shifted. He calls it the start of his second life.
The start of Saunders’ so-called second life involved returning to police work at the age of 40.
More than 20 years later, Saunders, 62, works with the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center (OCIAC) as a coordinator with the Terrorism Liaison Unit, where analysts and investigators examine threat information by implementing advanced technologies.
OCIAC works with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and SafeOC (the localized chapter of the national DHS See Something, Say Something campaign) to keep the community safe from terror threats, foreign and domestic.