Inspector Bill Paliscak
U.S. Postal Inspector
Washington, DC—The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Inspector Bill Paliscak, of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service as its Officer of the Month for December 2003.
Following the attacks on September 11, 2001, letters laced with the deadly Bacillus anthracis bacteria (Anthrax) were mailed to offices in the United States Senate and to news stations across the country. Two post office processing locations, the Brentwood facility in Washington, DC, and a postal distribution center in Hamilton, NJ were identified as major contamination sites and immediately both facilities were evacuated. United States Postal Inspection Service agents answered the call to duty and thirty-nine year old Bill Paliscak was sent to investigate.
On October 19, 2001 Inspector Paliscak and a team of local and federal officers entered the Brentwood facility in hopes of finding clues that would lead to the arrest of those behind the anthrax mailings. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) assured those who entered the site that paper masks and latex gloves were all they would need to protect themselves from the deadly spores. Unfortunately the anthrax that was found at the Brentwood location was later classified as “weapons grade”, containing much older and more dangerous spores.
As the officers began searching the facility, the anthrax was traced to one specific machine. Lab technicians felt that if they could get a sample from its filter they would be able to trace the spores to their original strain. As Inspector Paliscak removed the filter of the machine, a cloud of anthrax contaminated dust dispensed, covering him with the deadly spores. Within 24 hours, Inspector Paliscak began to feel ill, but due to the severity of the situation, and believing that the nation’s security hung in the balance, he reported to the Brentwood facility for three additional days. As his condition worsened, he began a ten-day cycle of taking the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin; however, he had been exposed to the deadly bacterium for too long and was soon hospitalized for acute anthrax inhalation. By the end of November, the anthrax attacks had killed five people in Connecticut, Florida, New York and Washington, and sickened 12 others individuals.
Once admitted to the hospital Inspector Paliscak received every known treatment for the disease, including an aggressive course of intravenous antibiotics. Although all tests confirmed that little to no traces of anthrax were found in his system, his condition continued to worsen for some time after his initial hospitalization. Inspector Paliscak continues to fight the effects of the anthrax that he came into contact with over two years ago. He is in and out of the hospital with shortness of breath, fever, headaches, a partially collapsed lung, and disease of the pericardium. He looks forward to returning to active duty.
Bill Paliscak, who served a tour of duty with the United States Marine Corps, received his Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Villanova University. He has served as an inspector for the past five years, serving the agency with distinction. In February 2003, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) recognized Inspector Paliscak’s devotion to duty, presenting him with the association’s National Heroism Award.
The Police Unity Tour is the official sponsor of the Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Program.