Larry's Blog: Trailblazing PAPD Chief Norma Hardy

Larry C. Mullins
January 29, 2019 - 4:11 pm

A trailblazer (and certified miracle) walked into the doors of the 1010 WINS studios today—a trailblazer because of what she was able to accomplish, and a miracle because she’s still around (survived) to talk about it. Newly retired Port Authority Police Department Assistant Chief Norma Hardy stopped by and shared her story; her history with us! And talk about sitting on the edge of your seat!!

First of all, she’s the very first female police inspector with the PAPD, and later became the first female “period” to become an assistant chief. And what she endured to get there is nothing short of remarkable. She was a cadet (just a few months out of the academy in 1993) when the first attack on the World Trade Center occurred. She recalls how she and her partners had just collared a group of truants, skipping school and fighting on the PATH train…when “all hell broke loose.” She says the kids were screaming (after it was determined that a bomb had gone off) and how she eventually ended up “feeling her way” through a thick black cloud (with the kids in tow) to get them out of there safely. Guess who got a medal of valor for her efforts?

Assistant Chief Norma Hardy

Figuring they’d get blamed for the bomb, the kids scattered --…and she hasn’t seen any of them since. We joked that they’re probably all somewhere preaching by now, having survived that! And then came Sept. 11. Hardy says she was actually off “that day” but immediately rushed to the scene, facing the headwinds of people rushing to get away from Manhattan. She described for us how difficult it was, having lost 37 friends inside the towers, towers where she most definitely would have been standing had she not been off.

She was reassigned to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, but later asked to return to WTC to serve as a morale booster for so many young cadets who needed a lift. Well for all of her work, experience and efforts, she was awarded assistant Port Authority police chief in 2013. In fact, retired from it four years later. Today she keeps in touch with her staff, still friends, and still a mentor with so many experiences to share. I know this reporter was glued to her every word, and appreciation for what she has done for our city, and the inspiration she has given to thousands of women. She says when she joined Port Authority in 1992, there were only 50 women in the ranks. Now there are more than 200 (and growing)... with another female chief already in command.

Yep, I truly met a trailblazer and a miracle today. Enjoy your retirement Chief! Much deserved!