By Lenis Rodrigues and Claire Elamrousi, Media Relations Staff
During his 13-year Port Authority Police Department career at the George Washington Bridge, Edwin Berdecia has proven to be an exceptional police officer. But he’s really distinguished himself in one specific area — taking impaired drivers off the road.
Berdecia has made an estimated 900 arrests during his GWB overnight shifts of motorists suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He accounted for 40 percent of all DUI arrests at the bridge in 2017 alone. For his accomplishments, Berdecia was honored this year as “Top Cop” by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, one of six “Distinguished Recipient” awards the officer has received during his PAPD service.
“These awards give me a feeling of compassion and empathy, since MADD is composed of volunteers, survivors and family members who have lost loved ones to motor vehicle accidents caused by impaired drivers,” Berdecia said.
From a young age, Berdecia, who lives in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, had a desire to participate in public service. He enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces, and then continued his career at the United States Postal Service, where he served first as a clerk and later as a police officer. He joined the PAPD in 2005.
In 2012, Berdecia set a new department record at the bridge for DUI arrests, with 55 arrests that year. The officer bested that mark with 119 DUI arrests in 2014.
“From my experience, Officer Berdecia has proven himself to be one of our most conscientious, hardworking and professional officers,” said PAPD Chief of Police Operations Emilio Gonzalez, the officer’s former commanding officer at the GWB. “Eddie is the consummate professional, who has dedicated his career to protecting the millions of people who cross the bridge every year.”
PAPD officers working at the Port Authority’s bridges and tunnels are entrusted with a wide range of responsibilities, including general patrol duties, investigating unusual activities and motor vehicle accidents and monitoring traffic, as well as ensuring the safety and property of motorists and pedestrians using Port Authority facilities.
Berdecia takes this last responsibility very seriously. “I have used the opportunity that different law enforcement agencies have given me during my career path to protect the lives of the innocent, and those who have used bad judgment and gotten behind the wheel while impaired,” he said.
It was that PAPD philosophy, and the record of accomplishment that backs it up, that impressed officials at MADD.
“Port Authority Police officers take their work very seriously by remaining vigilant at these crossings,” said Maria Esteves, who coordinates the Annual Statewide Law Enforcement Award Recognition program for MADD. “They are protecting the community by stopping impaired drivers, preventing crashes and saving lives.”
For his police colleagues, Berdecia has a simple message. “Don’t underestimate the power you have by virtue of wearing the police uniform,” he said. “Wear the uniform with pride and put that power you are vested with to good use.”