PANYNJ adds 109 new officers to force

Jan. 8, 2024
The 109 new recruits are joining the Port Authority Police Department after completing 26 weeks of training in New York and New Jersey law and safety procedures.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) has accepted into its ranks 109 cadets from its police force’s 122nd class in a graduation ceremony in Metuchen, N.J.

The incoming class joins the agency just weeks after the PANYNJ Board of Commissioners approved the agency’s 2024 budget, which included a record investment in the agency’s safety and security operations, totaling nearly $1 billion. The funding strengthens the agency’s overall security posture and advances new Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) initiatives in response to an evolving threat landscape.

The PAPD Academy requires 26 weeks of training and study in New York and New Jersey laws, alongside comprehensive instruction in police procedures, firearms usage, first aid and counterterrorism techniques. More than 41 percent of the new recruits are joining the agency with prior experience in law enforcement and 11 percent have military experience.

“The Port Authority Police Department is one of the finest police agencies in the nation, entrusted with securing some of the most critical infrastructure assets in the United States with an elite reputation of service,” said PANYNJ Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “Millions of travelers and commuters rely on their expertise and police work to travel safely throughout the region, the nation and the world.”

“The safety and security of travelers using our facilities and of our employees is our top priority so it is vitally important that we have the best of the best serving the public on our police force,” said PANYNJ Executive Director Rick Cotton. “We appreciate the intense effort and commitment required to graduate from the Port Authority Police Academy and we congratulate these 109 cadets who are joining the PAPD.”

In an effort to bolster its safety, security and emergency management operations, the agency added two new leadership positions in September 2023 and created a security technology and programs department.

Deputy Chief Security Officer Danielle Outlaw, a former commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department, now provides central oversight of major security functions. Michael Harpster is the new director of the PANYNJ's security operations department, following a two-decade career with the FBI. Harpster oversees security operations at all PANYNJ facilities. Jack Niedermeyer, an agency veteran of security technology, leads a new department focused on enhancing security-related technological capabilities, along with overseeing capital security projects and developing an agency-wide insider risk program.

The incoming class bolsters the total PAPD workforce of more than 2,000 members, who are tasked with securing some of the nation’s busiest infrastructure facilities and transportation hubs. Both states of the bistate agency are well represented in the new class, with 54 percent of the recruits coming from New Jersey and 46 percent from New York.

“These new officers are joining the Port Authority Police Department at a critical time, as more security threats emerge both overseas and closer to home, as well as through technology in the form of increasingly advanced cyber threats,” said PANYNJ Chief Security Officer Greg Ehrie. “They will add to our enhanced security posture to help ensure the public can continue to use our transportation facilities as intended.”

“The extensive amount of training, preparation and police work that these new cadets go through during their time at the academy continues the high standards of the PAPD family,” said PANYNJ Police Superintendent Edward Cetnar. “These recruits will add to the remarkable job that the PAPD has done to keep the region moving and secure through the recent holiday peak travel period.”