A Sign of the Times for the Port Authority Police

By Mercedes Guzman, Media Relations Staff

Port Authority Police Officer Dana Fuller was on patrol at the Lincoln Tunnel in December 2015 when the Hoboken Police Department called requesting assistance with a car accident involving a deaf person. The Hoboken officers had been met with silence, but Fuller’s arrival put the victim at ease and helped defuse the situation, because the two men shared the same language — Signing.

Fuller is the only PAPD officer nationally certified with the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. When he joined the PAPD four years ago, he had no idea how valuable his command of American Sign Language (ASL) would be.

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“I’ve had two passions growing up, one being in law enforcement and the other having to do with my work in the deaf community,” said Fuller, whose parents and siblings were all hearing-deprived. “I am fortunate enough to have merged the two.”

Fuller’s abilities in communicating with the deaf community isn’t limited to his work with the PAPD. He’s served as an interpreter for the deaf at Broadway shows and theatrical productions in New Jersey – 15 and counting – as well as in courtrooms, classrooms and on-the-job training sessions.

Within his first six months as a PAPD officer, assigned to Newark Liberty International Airport, he was called to a terminal where a deaf man was lost trying to locate the gate where his daughter was due to arrive. Fuller immediately started communicating with him and helped connect the anxious father with his daughter.

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“Excellence is not an act, it’s a habit,” said Fuller’s supervisor, Sgt. Scott Kelliher.  “Officer Fuller exemplifies excellence.”

Since childhood, Fuller’s hearing abilities, along with his ability to sign, defined his role in his family and his career. Being the only hearing person in his immediate family, he had an early responsibility to become the family interpreter. He would accompany his parents to doctors’ appointments and most of their errands to assist with communication.

Fuller learned English from watching television and attending school. But it was a difficult process. In kindergarten, his teachers were concerned because he was completely silent. They had conversations with his aunt, his auditory point of contact, and she assured them he was perfectly fine.

At his kindergarten graduation, he finally spoke in front of an audience. “I love my mom and dad,” he said.

Despite his unconventional upbringing, Fuller doesn’t feel he missed out on anything. “I owe it all to my parents,” he said. “They were the ones who taught me this beautiful language, and with that, I’m blessed to share my language, my culture and my story to those I come in contact with.”

Fuller now has a family of his own; his wife is a certified ASL interpreter and their two children are able to hear, but use sign language to communicate with their grandparents. He graduated from Seton Hall University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and obtained his Master’s Degree in Sign Language Teaching from Gallaudet University, a university for the deaf.

In addition to his police work, he spends some of his free time signing for deaf patrons of Broadway shows, as a member of the Theater Development Fund as one of its interpreters. Of the Broadway shows he’s signed, the Tony-winning musical “Billy Elliot” is his favorite.

Prior to joining the PAPD, Fuller was a full-time ASL high school teacher at Bergenfield (N.J.) High School and a part-time ASL professor at Kean University in Union, N.J. He hopes more PAPD officers are able build relationships with the deaf community by learning to sign. He believes it can enhance an officer’s communications skills and better enable them to serve the public.

“If I have one positive contact with a deaf person at work, it gives me the opportunity to set a good example and link law enforcement to the deaf community,” he said.

Posted in PAPD, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Port Authority Police Department, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,

The Port Authority’s Rising Star in Civil Engineering

By Lenis Rodrigues, Media Relations Staff  

Engineering is in Muhammad Elgammal’s blood. Raised in a family of five engineers, Elgammal already is making his mark at the Port Authority. Now, that reputation is spreading across the profession.

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Elgammal standing atop One WTC in front of its iconic spire.

Last night, Elgammal was one of 10 men and women cited at a ceremony in Arlington, Va. as a “2017 New Face of Civil Engineering” by the American Society of Civil Engineers, an honor bestowed on rising stars in the profession under the age of 30. Elgammal, 27, is an associate civil engineer who’s played an important role in many high-visibility agency projects.

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Muhammad Elgammal with 2017 President of American Society of Civil Engineers, Norma Jean Mattei

Currently, he’s working on Terminal A redevelopment at Newark Liberty International Airport, and has been involved in testing sections of the Engineered Materials Arrestor System (EMAS) – the arrestor beds used as barriers to protect arriving planes at PA airports — as well as the World Trade Center redevelopment, runway construction at Newark Liberty and runway design at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Elgammal was inspired by his uncle, Mustafa Basyouny, a structural engineer who designs villas in and around Cairo, Egypt. Elgammal originally wanted to be an environmental lawyer, but changed his mind after a visit to his uncle’s job in Egypt. His uncle explained the drawings on paper that would result in the construction of a building, and his nephew was hooked.

“My uncle made possible what I thought was impossible,” said the Long Island-born Elgammal, who now lives in New Jersey. “At the end of it all, he pointed to the sign outside the structure where his name was listed as the engineer of design. I was in awe. Uncle Mustafa left me with a lasting memory, and even more so, lessons that I will carry throughout my life.”

His uncle recognized his nephew’s potential early on, and said that Elgammal’s family is “extremely proud of him.”

“The truth is, I saw his curiosity and passion for this field even at a young age,” Mustafa Basyouny said. “He wanted to know every large and little thing in between, and boy did he ask questions. Questions that would take hours to answer! He showed promise as a young student, and I had no doubt he would find success in our field. We look forward to more of his achievements as he continues  through his career.”

A graduate of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Elgammal is an adjunct professor at his alma mater, where he earned his Bachelors of Science degree in Civil Engineering. He also serves on the Alumni Board of Directors, the Board of Trustees and is the chair of Young Alumni Association at the university.

Elgammal is part of a team of Port Authority engineers and craftsmen who design, build, operate and maintain construction projects and systems throughout the Port Authority. He said he feels privileged to work with talented colleagues directly responsible for the redevelopment of Newark Liberty, one of the nation’s busiest airports. The projects he’s helped to complete will be vital to the region for generations to come.

“Muhammad embraces his work and brings enthusiasm and dedication to the Port Authority Engineering Department,” said Brian McLaughlin, his supervisor. “His engineering design achievements and student mentoring will leave a lasting footprint on the region’s infrastructure and future civil engineers. It’s an honor to work with him.”

Posted in American Society of Civil Engineers, One World Trade Center, One WTC, PANYNJ, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

Port Authority Bus Terminal Comes to Life, at Breakneck Speed

By Neal Buccino, Media Relations Staff

Imagine the frenetic crush of buses and passengers using the world’s busiest bus terminal at rush hour. Now imagine all that motor and foot traffic running at hundreds of times its normal speed.

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“PABT Time Lapse 2017,” a new exhibit by landscape photographer Tony Gregory, includes a display screen looping several time-lapse videos in which the Port Authority Bus Terminal and its customers merge into a living system, becoming a beating heart to the life force it circulates – 232,000 bus passenger trips and 7,800 buses each weekday – between New York and New Jersey, and beyond.

The exhibit runs through the end of April at the Bus Terminal’s “Gallery of the People,” in the South Wing near the Ninth Avenue entrance. A sneak peek can be found here:

The video is displayed with still photos that Gregory took throughout the facility and its surroundings. They reveal splashes of glowing color and architectural grandeur that the average busy commuter might otherwise never notice.

As part of the agency’s effort to provide a better customer experience, the Bus Terminal has become an unexpected oasis for cultural enrichment in midtown Manhattan. But with this exhibit, the terminal itself is the artwork on exhibit.

“As a photographer/filmmaker and New Yorker, I have always been fascinated by seeing locations around the city captured on film,” Gregory said.

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It was the Port Authority’s recent commitment to eventually replace the Bus Terminal that inspired his “PABT Time Lapse” project. Although the overhaul won’t take place immediately, he said, “I thought there was no better time to document the building and its surroundings. So that in the future, people can enjoy seeing what this neighborhood of NYC once looked like.”

The Bus Terminal isn’t just an artistic inspiration for Gregory. He also happens to spend his weekdays at the terminal, tending bar at the Heartland Brewery at its Eighth Avenue entrance. “Serving commuters is interesting, and it makes you part of the life here,” he said. “I’ll see some of the same people come in maybe three times a week.”

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He shot the video and still photos during the last few months, always accompanied by Port Authority staff members. Creating the exhibit so quickly has been a challenge, but one that just happens to mesh with the always moving, never stopping pace of life at this thriving facility in the heart of New York.

 

Posted in NYC, PABT, PANYNJ, Port Authority Bus Terminal, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment