Captain James Romito

Chief James Romito
On September 11th, Chief Romito went up to the twenty-seventh floor of the North Tower and was supervising rescue workers who were trying to find survivors. He sent some officers outside for first-aid supplies. As the floors above them began to cave in, he ordered personnel to retreat. A colleague said that Chief Romito turned back from a clear stairwell to go back for a group of firefighters. He was found burned under the rubble with colleagues Officers James Parham and Stephen Huczko, Lieutenant Robert Cirri, and Captain Kathy Mazza, along with a woman they tried to rescue. Romito was born in the Bronx. The son of a corrections officer, he graduated from Adelphi University, Garden City, New York, in 1978. He received an M.A.E. in 1998 from Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey and taught in the school’s master’s degree law enforcement program. Chief Romito, fifty-one, was most recently the commander of the Port Authority headquarters support team and oversaw emergency operations. Prior to this command, he was chief of the Field Aviation Section for two years and was responsible for the Port Authority police operations at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Airports. An inspector at the time of the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800, he helped federal and local authorities coordinate information. He received a commendation for valor for his work in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Earlier in the 1990’s, when he was assigned to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, he started “Operation Alternative.” Now considered a national model, the program offered safe housing, medical care and social services to the homeless who made their home at the terminal. Operation Alternative resulted in a dramatic drop in crime. It’s been praised by both law enforcement and advocacy groups for the homeless. Chief Romito was in charge of a Port Authority Bus Terminal community policing plan. He was also a member of various associations, including the International Association of Ports and Harbors, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the American Association of Airport Executives. Romito lost his son, Robert, in a car accident in early 2001. He is survived by his daughter, Ellen.