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Port Authority's New Cop Class Can Speak 11 Languages

These officers know 11 languages between them, including Spanish, Italian and American Sign Language. Find out how it will help on the job.

Want to be a Port Authority cop? Learning a foreign language couldn't hurt your chances… but it could help someone in need.

Last week, the Port Authority of NY/NJ welcomed 83 new police officers to its ranks during a swearing-in ceremony at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck. According to officials, the new class includes 73 college graduates and seven military veterans.

But here's the kicker… the new class of recruits also includes almost a dozen foreign language speakers who have mastered tongues such as Spanish, Italian, Greek, Bengali, Albanian, Bosnian/Croatian and Portuguese.

The new recruits will join a force of about 1,800 officers who are responsible for ensuring the safety and security of the agency's land, sea, air and rail facilities, which include three major airports, four bi-state bridges and two tunnels, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, the PATH rail system, the regional ports in New York and New Jersey and the 16-acre World Trade Center site.

"It's certainly desirable to have officers who speak another language other than English," Port Authority spokesman Joe Pentangelo recently told Patch.

Sometimes, knowing a second language can give an officer a crucial advantage in gathering information, such as when the Port Authority's Dana Fuller used his knowledge of ASL to communicate with a deaf motorist during a crash at the Lincoln Tunnel in 2015.

But there are other chances for Port Authority cops to use their lingual knowledge on the job, including missing persons cases and people who are lost or in need of information, Pentangelo said.

"We deal with a great number of people who are travelling from all over the world and land in the New Jersey and New York area," he said. "Some of them aren't sure of their surroundings or where they should be going. So they'll look to a police officer as someone who can provide them with information in a language they're comfortable with."

"It's critical to be able to do that," Pentangelo added.

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