Chinese American Hero: David Waymond Lim

September 9, 2009

davidlim1Name in English: David Waymond Lim
Name in Chinese: 林维敏 [林維敏]
Name in Pinyin: Lín Wéimĭn
Gender: Male
Birth Year: 1956
Birth Place: Chinatown, New York City
Current location: Lynbrook, New York
NY & NJ Port Authority Police Officer
Profession (s): Police Officer

No degree, Queensborough Community College; Farmingdale University

2002, Justice in Action Award, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF); 2002, Special Recognition Award, Committee of 100

Contribution (s):  David Lim is the son of immigrants from Toishan, China.  He grew up in the New York borough of Queens where his parents ran a restaurant in the Far Rockaway neighborhood.  Because many of the restaurant’s patrons were local police officers, Lim developed his interest in a law enforcement career.  Lim began working as a police officer in 1980 and joined the Port Authority Police in 1986.  He was stationed first at the World Trade Center.  In 1996, TWA Flight 800 went down in what the FAA later determined was an accident but was at first suspected to be a terrorist incident.  From this Lim decided to become part of the K-9 Unit specializing in the detection of explosives.  After his training, Lim was stationed with his K-9 partner in rotation at each of New York’s three main airports.  In March of 2000, Lim was reassigned to work at the World Trade Center. There he was responsible for securing the area and protecting against possibly explosive unattended packages and vehicles.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the 23-year police veteran had just completed his morning rounds of vehicle inspections when he felt the building shake.  At first he thought a bomb had slipped past security.  He immediately decided to help in the evacuation of people from World Trade Center North Tower, leaving his canine partner and best friend, Sirius, in his basement kennel with the promise that he’d be back to get him if his bomb detecting skills were needed.  He had just started reporting a body landing on the plaza outside when several more bodies fell.  He was advised that help was needed on the upper floors and started making his way up from the mezzanine level.  Officer Lim had just reached the 44th Floor when he saw the second plane crash into the neighboring WTC South Tower.  The debris from the explosion shattered the windows knocking Lim and everyone else around him down.  Starting from the 44th Floor he worked his way down each floor utilizing his training in structural firefighting and elevator evacuation to assist hundreds to safely evacuate.  On the 4th Floor he and a firefighter had just started to assist a handicapped woman when WTC North Tower collapsed on top of them.  Five hours later he, twelve firefighters, and the handicapped woman became some of the last to find their way out alive from the ruins of the collapsed World Trade Center towers, miraculously with only minor injuries.  Sirius was recovered five months later, still in his kennel.  He was the only police dog killed in the September 11th attacks.  His remains were given salutes and full honors by the gathered police, fire, and recovery personnel as his flag covered body-bag left the site.

As a result of his heroism on 9/11, Governor George Pataki honored Lim and his contribution to New York City by inviting him and other police and fire personnel to start the trading session when the New York Stock Exchange reopened for the first time in the week after the September 11th attacks.

In 2009, Officer Lim was one of eleven New York & New Jersey Port Authority Police officers of Asian descent that successfully sued the organization for $1.64 million for discrimination in their promotion and evaluation processes.  An EEOC complaint filed in 2001 had found grounds for a discrimination lawsuit in a 2003 ruling.   No Asian officer had been promoted to a sergeant or supervisory position in five years despite exemplary records from 1996 through 2001 and they had been subjected to racial slurs.  Officer Lim was promoted to sergeant among other veteran officers with over 20 years experience in 2005, coincidentally just before the discrimination lawsuit was filed.

Lim says of his achievements: “I believe that I am living proof that becoming a police officer offers opportunities to truly make a difference. I have always been proud of my decision to become a member of the force, and my family, friends, and many members of the Asian community from all over the world have expressed pride in my career choice.”

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