ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Port Authority Police Department has graduated its largest class in the department’s 86-year history.
Two sons of officers killed in the line of duty during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were among the 249 cadets receiving their badges during a ceremony in Elizabeth Friday.
Officer Liam Huczko remembers taking trips with his father to the Port Authority police station at Newark Airport when he was a boy.
“I was always around the Port Authority police officers and I always looked up to them,” Huczko told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, officer Stephen Huczko, who was also a registered nurse, raced from headquarters in Jersey City to the twin towers. He was found under the rubble with a woman he was trying to save.
“My father was a person who stood out from everyone else, the way he carried himself and the way that he went out of his way to help others,” Huczko said. “He took his personal values and put them into his profession and it was something admirable that I wanted to live up to.”
Stephen’s badge number will live on near Liam’s heart when he graduates Friday.
“I would like to think that if he were still here I would have the opportunity to work with him,” said Huczko, who will start patrolling the PATH system Labor Day weekend.
Huczko graduated with Officer Patrick Gorman, whose father, Police Officer Thomas Gorman, was killed in the attacks, and Officer Jennifer Morrone — who lost her cousin, Superintendent of Police Fred Morrone, on 9/11.
“The threat of another attack remains a reality. Reports of crazed gunmen killing and wounding innocent strangers has become a familiar story in American life. And the very role of the police in the community is being questioned daily,” Security Chief Joseph Dunne told the newly-minted officers.
As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, Dune told the officers their discipline, education and fitness will serve them well in a world of new challenges.
The graduating class brings the department to its highest staffing level with nearly 1,800 officers.
The agency said the 210 men and 39 women include 136 New Yorkers and 111 New Jerseyans. There is also a resident each from Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
“We welcome the new officers to the Port Authority family and the traditions of public service, compassion and integrity that have been hallmarks of the Port Authority Police Department during the agency’s history,’’ said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. “These young men and women will continue the legacy of those before them who served the agency with distinction during moments of crisis, such as the two attacks on the World Trade Center and the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.”
The new officers received extensive training in counter-terrorism, firefighting and first aid. Many will be assigned to the World Trade Center.
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