Police Response

This lesson goes along with the Police Response Gallery.

Lesson Type(s) Grade(s) Description

Social-Emotional, Games, Social Studies

K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th

Explore the police response and test your quick response skills.

Activity Prep Materials Heart Badges

Create patterns.

3-4 large patterns (you can use anything and vary to your students’ difficulty level)/p>



EXPLAIN: Police officers played many roles on 9/11, including directing traffic, entering the buildings and rescuing people, and keeping bystanders safe. We’re going to learn more about what police officers did on that day.

INSTRUCT: Visit Police Response Gallery on 9/11 Lesson site: https://911lesson.org/police-response/


  • What were some of the things you heard/read about?
  • Was there anything that surprised you? If so, what and why?

EXPLAIN: One of the jobs that police officers had on 9/11 was to direct traffic. We get a chance to do that today by playing the NYPD Traffic Maze.

PLAY: NYPD Traffic Challenge.

EXPLAIN: On 9/11, police officers had to make quick decisions, like how to get wounded people to the hospital by clearing the road and solving problems. Often, it was important to work quickly, and to make quick decisions. Today, we’re going to explore what it feels like to make quick decisions.



DISCUSS: How can we improve our thinking under pressure in order to make better decisions?




  1. I‘m going to show you a pattern for a certain period of time, and then give you a certain amount of time to repeat it back to me. We’ll do this several different times with different time limits.
  2. I will give you 20 seconds to look at the pattern.
  3. You have 20 seconds to repeat it back to me.
  4. For our next pattern I will give you 15 seconds to look at the pattern.
  5. You have 15 seconds to repeat it back to me.
  6. For our next pattern I will give you 10 seconds to look at the pattern.
  7. You have 10 seconds to repeat it back to me.
  8. Optional: You may add pressure to the time by a very visible clock, Jeopardy music, verbal countdown, or verbal prompts like, “Are you ready yet?”


  • Did the game get easier or harder as you went along? Why or why not?
  • How does this relate to the job of a police officer on 9/11 or during a difficult or dangerous situation?

EXPLAIN: Often, pressure causes people to make the wrong decision, even though you knew the right one all along! Some people are better at it than others, and we can work to practice our quick-thinking skills.


DISCUSS: How can we improve our thinking under pressure in order to make better decisions?

Optional Extension

EXPLAIN: All human beings have biases.

DEFINE: Bias: prejudice against a thing, person, or group in a way that is unfair.

EXPLAIN: Biases can show up at any time, but they are most likely to show up when we are under pressure. I’m going to show you a piece of a movie called Men in Black, where some individuals show their biases during a job interview, where they have to decide who/what is a threat and who/what to shoot a gun at.

WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3hAVT2sDqQ from 0:00 – 2:08

  • CAUTION: Contains mature language.


  • What biases did you see represented?
  • What was the most common bias of all of the interviewees?
  • How did J avoid the most common bias?

EXPLAIN: J knows that quick thinking is important, but that considering all of what is happening is even more important.


  • How can we work to become better quick thinkers under pressure?
  • How can we encourage others to become better?