Henry DeGeneste



Director of Public Safety & Superintendent of Police (retired) (1967-1990) - I was in the PAPD Police academy in August 1967 when we were deployed to the city of Newark, N.J. to supplement the Newark Police, N.J. State Police, and the N.J. National Guard to help quell the riots that were taking place in Newark at the time. It was an interesting initiation into policing in my rookie year.

After several times being passed over for Sergeant, I filed a class action suit and was successful in getting the PA to hire the first female police officers, and increase the numbers of Latino, Asian, and other minority officers and revise the promotional system to eliminate implicit bias.

As a Sergeant assigned to headquarters I was able to obtain a block grant from LEAA to fund the Police Youth Services Unit at the PABT as a unique program in policing in the U.S. Subsequently, LEAA designated it as a “Model Program” and funded it for two more years.

As the Operations Captain at JFKIA, I was responsible for the investigation for the PAPD of the Lufthansa robbery, making it the largest cash robbery committed on American soil at the time. As Deputy Superintendent of Police I was asked by the Metropolitan Police in London to assist them in analyzing the causes and solutions to the riots in Brixton in April, 1981. The leadership of the Metropolitan Police had read several papers I had written on the subject.
In 1982, I established our first K9 patrols on the PATH system, modeled after the K9 unit in the SEPTA system in Philadelphia. Pa.

I was appointed as Superintendent of Police in 1983, becoming the first Black American and the youngest person to have achieved that position. To date, I am also last person to have risen through the ranks of the PAPD to become the Superintendent of Police.

As Superintendent of Police, 1984 I created the Special Olympic Law Enforcement Torch Run in New Jersey, which has become the most successful Law Enforcement torch run on the globe and is the leader in fundraising for Special Olympics worldwide. The Lincoln Tunnel Fun Run is also a successful offshoot of this program.

As part of a health and wellness program for officers, we created a team of officers to compete in the New York State Police Olympics. I am proud to say we set the standard in many events wining many gold medals. I always enjoyed running in the 200- and 400-meter events against some of the younger officers. We also fielded a team of athletes in the “Corporate Challenge” and won the event in New Jersey, which got us a trip to the national finals on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Great fun!

In 1986, I established the Port Authority Police Command College in collaboration with John Jay College and the West Point Military Academy. Although It was discontinued because of fiscal issues it remains as a pioneering effort in the development of police leadership education in the U.S.
In 1986, we developed in partnership with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the first New York City Video Teleconferencing System, for arraignment of arrested criminal suspects.

In 1988, developed a partnership with INTERPOL to facilitate a system of regular exchange of information concerning terrorism and criminal trends associated with airport operations. The organization is the Airport Law Enforcement Agencies Network (ALEAN)

I could not ever imagine a more wonderful experience in my life then the time I spent in the PAPD. As the saying goes, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” and I truly loved my time in the PAPD.



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