By Lenis Rodrigues, Media Relations Staff
William Farfalla is celebrating his first day as a Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) officer today, but his ties to the department go way back – more than six decades, in fact.
Farfalla was one of seven “legacy” officers – following in the footsteps of family members who are current or retired PAPD officers — who graduated this morning as part of the 118th Police Academy class, in a ceremony at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, N.J. The class adds 113 officers to the PAPD, raising the staff to 2,169 members, the highest level in department history.
Farfalla’s father Steve, currently a sergeant and serving as field instructor at the Police Academy, has been with the PAPD for 26 years. Farfalla’s grandfather Frank spent 38 years on the force before retiring in 1995 as a lieutenant. They joined the new graduate at the ceremony today to celebrate his entry into the department.
“It feels like a dream right now, because this was ultimately my dream,” said Farfalla, 26. “I wanted to be a cop, I wanted to carry on this tradition in my family. This is honestly one of the greatest feelings, to be able to carry on the tradition.”
In addition, Farfalla’s uncle and two cousins are also current members of the PAPD family. He said he would like to be stationed at PATH headquarters, where his father started his own career. As part of the family tradition, Farfalla will be wearing his father’s shield.
Anthony Cannizzo, 24, is another graduate with the PAPD in his blood. His father John retired in 2007, after 21 years of service to the department. The elder Cannizzo assisted with 9/11 recovery efforts, and his son remembers his commitment to helping people in aftermath of the attacks.
Cannizzo realized about a year ago he wanted to make that career his own. “I wanted to give myself the best opportunity in life and follow in my dad’s footsteps,” he said. “I wanted to a part of something bigger than me.”
Although he heard stories about Port Authority policing growing up, Cannizzo – who graduated from the University of North Carolina, where he studied Finance — said the PAPD Academy opened his eyes to the opportunities ahead of him.
“Everything was new to me,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to help people. In finance, I could help people over the phone. It’s different helping them one on one.”
Cannizzo said he hopes to be assigned to the Newark Liberty command, where John Cannizzo spent most of his career. He, too, will be wearing his father’s shield on the job.
Besides Falfalla and Cannizzo, five other new members of the department have a family connection: Christopher Murphy’s uncle, now retired; Christopher Rivera, Kevin Fecanin and Dominick Barbato each have a brother on the force, and Wayne Clark’s cousin is currently a PAPD officer.
Today’s ceremony was the second part of the graduation ceremony. Graduates yesterday received their shields and IDs at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center. PAPD Superintendent Edward Cetnar reminded them of what it should mean to wear the uniform.
“The introduction to the museum is to remember the 37 PAPD officers who sacrificed their lives and what it means to stand on this sacred ground,” he said. “Never forget has always been our mantra and it is something we want to instill within you.”