The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (PAPD) recently graduated 21 police officers from the PAPD Emergency Service School. During the seven-month qualification course, 12 Port Authority police officers and nine officers serving with the Elizabeth, Jersey City, Paramus and New Jersey Transit police departments received specialized training preparing them for assignments in their agencies’ Emergency Service Units (ESUs).
Police ESU work is not for everyone. Officers first need to successfully navigate a rigorous and exhaustive selection and assessment process. If selected, they have to survive the qualification course, which includes training in entry assaults; barricaded suspects; nuclear, chemical and biological hazardous materials; water and swift water rescue; active shooter response; confined space rescue; high angle rescue; vehicle extrication and many more specialties. There is a saying in law enforcement: “When the public is in trouble, they call the police. When the police are in trouble, they call ESU.”
The history of the PAPD Emergency Service Unit is filled with honor, courage and, unfortunately, tragedy. The person considered the father of PAPD ESU was Police Officer George Howard, who was killed in the line of duty on September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center — one of eight PAPD ESU officers who died on that horrible day. When President George W. Bush addressed a shocked nation days later, he held up Howard’s badge while paying tribute to all who perished.
Two of the 2023 ESU School graduates are second-generation members of the PAPD: Officers Patrick Cottrell and William Farfalla, both of whose fathers were part of the 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts. Cottrell is also a second-generation ESU member, the son of retired PAPD ESU Sergeant Kevin Cottrell. On July 16, 2009, Sergeant Cottrell led a PAPD ESU team, partnered with a Jersey City ESU team, inside a Jersey City apartment building while attempting to apprehend two armed individuals who earlier opened fire on a Jersey City Police surveillance team. The teams performed a tactical entry into an apartment where the suspects decided to make their last stand. Upon entry, the suspects unloaded a fusillade of firepower, killing Jersey City Police Officer Marc DiNardo and wounding four other police officers. Both suspects were killed in the ensuing gun battle. Sergeant Cottrell was also a first responder on 9/11 and a member of the PAPD WTC Rescue and Recovery Mission.
To watch a video with highlights from the ESU qualification course, visit https://youtu.be/gv_1qbI-OMY.