A dedicated police officer who was a first responder at 9/11 has killed himself after a long battle with lung disease.
61-year-old Douglas Greenwood was commanding officer with the New York Police Department in charge of the officers on the ground at Ground Zero.
He spent 40 consecutive days searching the Twin Towers’ debris for bodies – his work can only be called heroic.
It is now believed that as a result of his work, his health was seriously affected, rapidly deteriorating in the years after 9/11.
While rummaging through the pile-up as captain of the Manhattan South Task Force, Greenwood did not wear a protective mask which many believe led to the disease developing.
Ralph Friedman, a friend of Greenwood’s for 25 years, told The New York Post:
He was in charge of all the NYPD boots on the ground. He’d be commanding the scene, but he also did grunt work — everybody pitched in. Everyone was sifting through the scene for bodies, body parts.
He could have stayed in a car. But he was right there. And it cost him his health — as it did for a lot of officers.
They did very heroic work — there’s no way around it. And he was right there.
Despite undergoing several surgeries and wearing an oxygen mask while sleeping for the last 10 years, the pain was too much to bear and so on Tuesday night the retired officer shot himself at a park near his home in Suffolk County, New York.
Long-time friend Kevin McCormick told The New York Post:
He talked about shooting himself as an inevitable thing.
He said when there’s no more quality of life, I’m going to do it.
He knew it was coming.
It was constant, increasing pain. It hurt to breathe. He would never do something like this unless he had no choice. And he had no choice.
After retiring from the police 14 years ago, Greenwood became co-owner of the highly popular pizzeria Bleecker Street Pizza in Greenwich Village.
Using his Italian grandmother’s recipe, Greenwood’s pizzas were infamous in New York with its Tuscan-style toppings that included fresh basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Hugely proud of his work, he was known to sit in the dining area disguised as a customer to listen in to people complimenting his pizzas.
However, having served as an officer for 26 years Greenwood’s brother Gregory admits that he would never have left the force if it wasn’t for his lung disease.
He loved his second career, as his brother told The New York Post:
He had a whole second life.
All I can tell you is that he’s very well known in the police world and the pizza world.
He was married to the NYPD and pizza.
Our thoughts are with his friends and family.