By Lenis Rodrigues, Media Relations Staff
Growing up, Port Authority Police Department recruits Robert Greff, Patrick Cottrell and Stephen Pellicone watched as their fathers put on the PAPD uniform each day, bringing a sense of pride and duty to their departmental tours.
This week, their fathers looked on with pride as the “legacy” recruits completed 26 weeks of training to join a department that has been part of their lives for so long. They were among the 120 recruits in the 119th Police Academy graduation class that received badges and swore oaths of office at a World Trade Center ceremony on Thursday.
Greff is actually a third-generation officer. His father is retired PAPD Lieutenant Robert Greff, who joined the department in 1992, and his grandfather Roger Greff started on the job in 1960.
“I always wanted to be like my father,” said Greff, who served eight years as a Marine after joining the corps at the age of 19. “Becoming a PAPD officer is something I am extremely proud off. My dad has been someone I always looked up to, he was the guy who did good on the job and that’s who I want to be.”
Cottrell previously served as an New York City corrections officer. His father, retired PAPD Sergeant Kevin Cottrell, served 27 years in the department and has been his son’s inspiration. Before joining the PAPD, the younger Cottrell worked as a Metropolitan Opera House stagehand and as a longshoreman. He also plays the bagpipes.
“I’ve waited my whole life to be a Port Authority cop,” said Cottrell. “My dad has been my hero for as long as I could remember, and for as long as I can remember I wanted to be a Port Authority Police officer.”
Pellicone’s recollection of the PAPD starts with the cool fire trucks he got to check out, when he was young, since his father Joseph Pellicone — who served almost 30 years with the department — was a member of the Port Authority’s Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Unit at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Pellicone received his father’s shield during the ceremony.
“It doesn’t feel real to me,” said Pellicone, who earned a degree in Psychology from University of Pittsburgh. “My father always had a way of calming me down through his stories on the job and his advice.”
The trio understand the challenges and dangers that can come with the job. Greff and Cottrell recall the worry they felt on 9/11, when their fathers were on duty and later assisted in the rescue and recovery efforts. Greff’s grandfather was also involved in post-9/11 recovery efforts. Cottrell remembers when his father finally came home that day. They embraced and cried together. “I’ll never forget that,” said Cottrell.
Following their graduation, which took place at the 9/11 Museum, the recruits were sworn in and given their shields and then gathered at the WTC’s South Pool to honor the fallen officers by placing 56 carnation flowers where the names of all PAPD officers who have died in the line of duty are inscribed on the memorial. Thirty-seven of those officers died on 9/11.
PAPD Superintendent Edward Cetnar was joined by Robert Greff and fellow recruit David Atkinson in laying a wreath at the site. During remarks delivered at the graduation ceremony, Cetnar reminded the new officers of their duty to protect the region and act responsibly while upholding the legacy of officers who’ve served before.
“As these graduates begin their careers as law enforcement professionals, they are now equipped with training and resources to protect millions of people, not only in enforcing laws but as first responders at the agency’s airports, tunnels, bridges, terminals and PATH,” Cetnar said.