From Police Heroes, a book by author Chuck Whitlock:
Officer Richie Rodriguez, thirty-one, was hired by the Port Authority Police Department in April, 1993. A drummer in the Port Authority Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, he went to the Twin Towers on September 11 with Captain Kathy Mazza.
Rodriguez was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. He graduated from Perth Amboy Vocational Technical High School and attended Middlesex County Community College in New Jersey. Though he studied technical drafting at school, he found an interest in public service while volunteering with the first-aid squad in Perth Amboy. He told people he knew he’d won the lottery when he was offered a position with the Port Authority eight years ago.
His first assignment at the Port Authority was in the tactical response bureau, where he trained for special duty to protect the U.S. President at Newark International Airport. Three years ago, he became an instructor at the Police Academy, where he taught patrol operations, motor vehicle stops, water rescue, emergency vehicle operation and radio procedures. He also coordinated the installation of and training on mobile video cameras.
Officer Rodriguez is survived by his wife, Cindy.
Portraits of Grief, The New York Times
Like Hitting the Jackpot
It can’t be said with certainty that Richard Rodriguez was the only Puerto Rican man ever to parade around in a skirt and enjoy it. But his family is certain that no one could have reveled in doing so more than he did.
A member of the Port Authority Police Department and a drummer in its Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, he was as proud of being a police officer as he was of his Latin heritage. And he didn’t mind putting on a kilt, even if it was rather unusual for someone of his background to do so. “He used to say he was breaking barriers,” said his wife, Cindy.
Before joining the force, Officer Rodriguez went to school for technical drafting-and hated it. But the more time he spent with the volunteer first-aid squad in Perth Amboy, N.J., where he grew up, the more his career interests shifted to public service.
When the Port Authority police offered him a position eight years ago, he told everyone he had won the lottery. He was first assigned to Newark Airport, where he trained for special duty protecting the president when Air Force One landed there.
Three years ago he started teaching at the Port Authority Police Academy, which was in Sea Girt until it moved to Jersey City in August. When the planes hit on Sept. 11, Officer Rodriguez and the other officers rushed through the Holland Tunnel.
The Port Authority Emerald Society played at his funeral.