GARFIELD, N.J. — "Professionalism, while often facing grave personal risk," is a way journalists have frequently described the sacrifices and commitments to duty of law enforcement officers. On Friday, it's how an organization of law enforcement officers described PIX11 reporter James Ford.
James was given the Gus Danese Distinguished Professional Award for Journalism by the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association. It's the union representing the largest transit-related police force in the country.
The award cited Ford's "commitment to journalism with courage, integrity and selfless service" while "informing the public of the dedicated work of the members of the Port Authority Police Department and all law enforcement."
For PIX11 News, James reported last December on PAPD officers seizing terror suspect Akayed Ullah after he'd set off an explosive in the pedestrian tunnel connecting the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the subway hub at Times Square, preventing him from igniting other explosives he'd attached to his body. Ford also broadcast the first interview with the hero officers.
He also reported on PAPD officers' heroism at the crash landing of Delta Airlines Flight 1086, in a snowstorm at La Guardia Airport in March 2015, as well as, in 2014, the first PAPD academy graduation to feature children and other relatives of officers killed on 9/11, to name just a few of many stories.
In accepting the award, Ford spoke about the man after whom it's named. Gus Danese was the longest-serving president of the PAPBA, from the mid-1990s until 2009. He "believed in the power of information, and the freedom of the press to do what was best for the men and women of the Port Authority Police Department," Ford said to the capacity audience at the Venetian Event Center here.
Ford cited Danese's advocacy in local television and print outlets to "get precise numbers on [the Port Authority's] expenditures for equipment, training and staff, in order to improve them all," and Danese's "ensuring that the stories of all 37 Port Authority Police officers killed on 9/11 were told thoroughly — including that of his former partner at the Port Authority Bus Terminal Facility Police Command, J.D. Levi."
It was the first time the PAPBA has given out an award to a journalist.