On June 1, 1928, 40 young men signed up to become the original Port Authority Police Force. They were the first officers of a force that would later become the largest transportation-related force in the United States.
Screened from some 200 applicants, they were quickly trained to operate toll booths and fulfill many other functions at the Outerbridge Crossing and Goethals Bridge, which were scheduled to open only four weeks later.
Thirty-one of the new recruits were dubbed “PA Bridgemen” and nine were called “Bridgemasters,” until 1935, when the titles were officially changed to Police Officer and Sergeant. A Bridgeman’s starting salary was $2,200 a year for a standard 48-hour work week.
Having had no police experience, the 40 original recruits were placed in an intensive training program. The Port Authority as well as consultants from the U.S. Army, the Red Cross and local police departments created a crash program that would have the young men on the job just in time for the grand opening of both bridges at 5:00 a.m. June 29, 1928. Instruction included police methods, traffic control, first aid, firefighting techniques and toll-collecting skills. The new officers held police authority in both New York and New Jersey.