Black History Month: Retired PAPD chief looks back on a pioneering career

Adam Warner
January 29, 2019 - 5:01 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- When Port Authority Police Department Assistant Chief Norma Hardy retired in July 2018, she said she was “proud that so many people want to come say goodbye to me.”

Her comment was a humble one, considering how much Hardy has accomplished and how many lives she has influenced during her 26-year career with the PAPD. 

After serving in the U.S. Army National Guard and completing a six-year stint as an EMT, Hardy became a patrol officer at the World Trade Center in 1992. With just four months on the job, she earned a Medal of Valor for leading 40 to 50 people out of the World Trade Center during the 1993 terrorist bombing.

Hardy climbed quickly through the ranks of the PAPD after being promoted to sergeant in 2002. She was promoted to lieutenant in 2006 and captain in 2008. 

In 2011, she became the first African-American woman to be named inspector. By 2013, she had become the department’s first female assistant chief.

Norma Hardy and Larry Mullins
1010 WINS

Hardy had a day off work on Sept. 11, 2001, but when she heard about the attacks, she quickly went to help. Saddened by the tragic losses that day, she wrote a poem that touched the hearts of many first responders and helped her to deal with the loss.

“Unfortunately, 37 PAPD officers were killed that day. Most of my friends and coworkers and guys that I worked with,” she said. “Thirteen of them I worked with almost every day.”

During her career, Hardy did not think of herself as a role model, but she enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences with young officers who express their admiration for her. She is proud that she changed the minds of those who had doubts about women joining the PAPD. 

Hardy will not be idle in her retirement years. She would like to work with at-risk youth and ensure that young people and their families have access to enough food to meet their needs.

Right now she’s just appreciating a job well done.

“To be able to walk out healthy and be able to walk out on my own terms and just look back on my career – it’s wonderful.”