Last Roll Call

Let me tell you this.

While I officially retired on Tuesday, January 20, 2015, today at 1345 hrs (that’s 1:45 PM for non-military time folks) I will stand my “Last Roll Call” as a Port Authority Police Officer. It will be bittersweet.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with how most police departments work, a roll call is generally held fifteen minutes prior to an officer’s work shift. So the roll call for officers working from 2-10 PM would be at 1:45 PM. Officers stand in a line facing the patrol sergeant and tour commander, most often a lieutenant. The sergeant and the lieutenant face the line of officers, and the sergeant reads each officer’s name. The officer usually says “Present”, or “Here”, and then the sergeant will give the officer his or her assigned post for the day. After attendance has been taken and the post assignments given out, the sergeant will then read important information from the “roll call clipboard”. This information varies greatly. It can be the delightful news of an officer’s wife giving birth, the mundane announcement of some new procedure being implemented, or the tragic death notification of a fellow officer. The mood of roll call, often dictated by this information, can range from lighthearted and humorous, to very serious and grave. It is a fundamental part of most police officers careers, and it establishes a sense of camaraderie, routine, and a procedure for divulging information. Today will be the last time I stand in uniform at a roll call.

For the past twenty-one years, I have had the honor and privilege to wear the uniform of the Port Authority Police Department. During the course of a career spanning just over two decades, my duties have varied. I have guarded a Fabergé egg, and yes it was gorgeous. I have protected dignitaries such as President GW Bush, President Clinton, Senator Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, and a Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, just to name a few. I have rendered aid to injured and sick people in need, performing CPR numerous times. I have responded to hundreds of car accidents, been involved in more than a few high speed chases, directed traffic more times than I count, and have spent countless hours on patrol, doing my part to keep the community safe. I have handled pounds of narcotics, inventoried property from suicide victims, and deposited thousands of confiscated drug dollars. I, along with all the members of my department, had to deal with the events of September 11, 2001 on a personal level unimaginable by most people. All things considered, I like to think I’ve had a good run.

I would like to thank my fellow police officers: I couldn’t have done my job without your help. I would like to thank my supervisors: when it was good, it was inspirational. Finally, I would like to thank the Port Authority of NY & NJ: you have generously given me a career I can look back on with pride. No agency is perfect, and the Port Authority is no exception, but they have provided for me and my family, and for that I am eternally grateful. Over twenty years ago, a young man in his twenties, with no real plan for his life, happened to take a police test. He passed that test, and became a police officer. He has never been, nor will he ever be, the same since.

Police Officer Capuano, present for the final time.

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