PAPD Captain Kathy Mazza-Delosh: Woman of Action, Healer of Hearts

By Mercedes Guzman, Media Relations Police Blogger

The late Captain Kathy Mazza was a tough, no-nonsense but altruistic woman who commanded respect from both male and female police cadets as Commander of the Port Authority Police Academy, before she met an untimely death helping others on 9/11.

Rose Mazza

Police Officer Priscilla Sanchez pins a corsage on Captain Mazza’s mother, Rose Mazza, at the start of 2016 Women of Action Awards in Jersey City

For her heroism that day and her achievements over a distinguished career, Mazza  was posthumously honored this week as one of 18 winners of the 2016 Women of Action Awards, bestowed by the City Council in Jersey City.

Mazza was a first responder killed during the attack on the World Trade Center, but not before using her 9mm sidearm to shoot out the floor-to-ceiling glass walls of the North Tower’s mezzanine, enabling hundreds of people to escape with their lives.  She was last seen helping colleagues carry out a woman in a rescue chair.

Of the 37 PAPD officers who lost their lives that day, she became the first and only female Port Authority Police Officer killed in the line of duty.

In an interview before the ceremony, her mother, Rose tearfully explained that from the start, her daughter somehow sensed she wouldn’t live a long life.

“I recall my own mother’s words about Kathy:  ‘What a destiny she’s going to have!’ I’ve remembered her words all my life,” said Rose.

Rose remembers how as a teenager, Kathy used to sneak in the house at 3 a.m., well past her curfew.   “I knew early on that my daughter had her own mind.  She was a determined person who always told me she’d leave her mark on the world.”

Mazza grew up on Long Island with her parents, and three brothers with whom she arm-wrestled and learned the skills of sibling warfare. She attended Nassau Community College, obtaining her nursing degree and spending the first 10 years of her professional career as a cardiac nurse at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn.

Family members recall that during the graduation ceremony in 1981, she broke the time-honored tradition of wearing a nursing cap.   Since male nursing graduates didn’t wear caps, she refused to wear hers and graduated “cap-less.” “She always did what she wanted to do,” her mother said.

According to her husband of 16 years, Christopher Delosh, a retired NYPD Officer, had anyone asked his wife why she joined the Port Authority Police Department in 1987 after working as a cardiac nurse, she would likely have said the PAPD offered a more secure retirement for herself and her family.  But he said “it was because she wanted to show [me] how [policing] is done!

She advanced quickly through the ranks, and after 13 years, she became the first female commanding officer of the police academy, during a time when there was only one other female captain in the entire department.

Another of Mazza’s significant achievements was convincing the Port Authority to install portable heart defibrillators in each of its airports, an accomplishment which saved many lives. She initiated the training program in which 600 police officers learned to use the defibrillators in the airports.  Recognized in 1999 for her efforts, NYC  named her the “Basic Life Support Provider of the Year.” She also oversaw the agency’s first-aid programs, certified first responder and EMT training.

PAPD Superintendent Michael Fedorko, who attended Tuesday’s awards ceremony, described Mazza as an officer “committed to helping people, and in the end, she gave her life to help people.”

PAPD Assistant Chief, Gloria Frank, worked with Captain Mazza when Frank was a rookie police officer in PAPD. “I was assigned to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in 1999, and Captain Mazza quickly became my mentor. Despite her tough facade, she was a very caring, selfless, fearless and dedicated woman who loved policing and advised me on how to perform police work at its best. I will never forget her kind words to me one day as she handed me a stack of police shirts, which still had the sergeant’s insignia attached to the sleeves.  She said, ‘you will need these one day.’ We both laughed. She was the first supervisor who saw the potential in me to move up the ranks.  She absolutely had an impact on my career.”

Mazza was a source of strength, not only in her law enforcement career, but to everyone in her life.  Just a year after she underwent open-heart surgery to correct a quarter-sized hole, she saved her own mother’s life by being the first to recognize her mother’s arteries were blocked.

Quickly she took charge of the medical staff in her mother’s operating room.  “Everyone was so shocked and intimidated by her presence that they just allowed her to run the show. She saved my life.  If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Rose.


This entry was posted in 9/11, Captain Kathy Mazza, NYC, NYPD, PAPD, police history, Port Authority, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Port Authority Police Academy, Port Authority Police Department, Uncategorized, Women's History Month and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to PAPD Captain Kathy Mazza-Delosh: Woman of Action, Healer of Hearts

  1. Don Edward Yannuzzi says:

    If Anyone Knows this Hero s Family Contact Don Edward Yannuzzi Sr . On Face Book before Christmas . I Need to take another polygraph with a P.A.P.D. family present . I called the Washington Post and CNN on 4/4/01.. warning of 9/11 . The night My Brother Rick was Murdered. Senior Elite , C.I.A. Officer . Deputy director of Stigmatic & Nuclear . Weapons for the National Security Counsel .Office was in the White House Complex My father :. Edward Yannuzzi was in The United States of America :Senior , Executive , Service . Peace ..

  2. Linda says:

    My dear friend Kathy, I remember one day during your work as a scrub nurse in open heart surgery. The surgeon screamed out loud to you, ” You’re killing my patient”. And you calmly replied, ” Doctor, you are doing all the work”.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Kathy – still miss your sense of humor and sense of purpose. One great person glad to have known you – JHayden PA-Ret, Chief MFD – Ret

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  10. jerry matthews says:

    An exceptional woman in every sense of the word. I worked with her and watched her as she rose through the ranks. Proud of her and honored to have had the opportunity to serve with her.

    Jerry Matthews

  11. Phil May says:

    I knew Captain Kathy Mazza when she was a regular officer. She was always kind hearted and genuine. As she progress through the ranks, she never changed. She always went out of her way to just say hello. She was a truly genuine and sincere person. Her kindness was always refreshing. God bless you Captain Kathy, for being you. You are truly missed.

    Phil May

  12. Eddie Foley says:

    I met Kathy through Chris, who was a partner of mine for a while. She was funny, with an incredible sense of humor. Chris was just as funny.Hanging out with her and Chris was always such a pleasure. Hearing she was among the missing my second day at Ground Zero was a knee buckling experience. I didn’t hear about her the first day as I didn’t get to go home that evening. We worked all night. There is no doubt she would have climbed higher in the ranks, she was determined, smart, loving and caring. Saying she was altruistic is an understatement. Her loss is a great one for all who were touched by her life.

  13. John Rufus says:

    “She advanced so quickly in the police department, before you knew it she was something else,” Rose Mazza said. “She said, ‘I’ll retire as police chief.'” — Michael Their

  14. Kaushal Mudar says:

    One amazing lady who put others lives before hers!!! Such people make up Police Departments around USA!!! Groups or individuals reveal their true spirit only during crisis. And She showed her true spirit indeed!!
    So proud of her dedication, determination, and still kind heart! Sad, she could not see the fruits of her dedication and commitment. My condolences to the family and the PA Police department for the great loss.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Certainly a dedicated public servant And a great human being

  16. Anonymous says:

    What an inspiration, RIP!

  17. Robert Vargas says:

    Captain “kathy” Mazza, I still hear your hearty, loud laugh. One tough lady sprinkled with genuine kindness, fortitude and a ‘never say never attitude’. Kathy was a “force to be reckoned with’. She met every challenge and assignment with vigor, failure was never an option. I know you are protecting your family and friends. Miss you much. You are truly in a better place. God bless you forever. Your friend, Bobby V.

  18. Henry DeGeneste, Retired Director of Public Safety and Superintendent of Police , PAPD says:

    Captain Mazza epitomized the best in law enforcement. Her personal attrubutes of bravery, fidelity, srevice and integrity are a beacon for all to follow. She was a symbol of excellence and I was proud to know her . Henry DeGeneste

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