Joseph Morris has been with the Port Authority Police Department for 29 years. Joining as a police officer, Morris worked his way up through the ranks to become the Chief of Department of the Port Authority in September.
Morris’ appointment, however, is bittersweet. Thirty-seven Port Authority employees, including Chief James A. Romito, died in the collapse of the World Trade Center, where the agency had its headquarters. On September 26, Morris was promoted to Chief of Department.
On September 11, Morris was the commanding officer of La Guardia Airport. Immediately after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center he responded to the mobilization call and arrived on the scene soon after both planes had hit. “I was gathering people on West Street and Vesey to decide what to do. I was walking towards the towers when one collapsed,” he recalls.
At 53, Morris had a lucky escape. “I still had a good 30-yards sprint in me,” he says.
Primarily responsible for law enforcement, firefighting and rescue operations, the PAPD are assigned to a broad range of duties in an area within a 25-mile radius of the Statue of Liberty known as the Port District, which includes the world’s busiest regional airport system, the largest container port on the East Coast, and some of the most heavily traveled bi-state bridges, tunnels and approach roads in the country. ♦