1st female named chief of NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau
March is Women's History Month, and one woman in particular is making history with the NYPD.
Martine Materasso is now holding, quite possibly, one of the toughest positions in the entire department. In December, the 42-year-old was named department chief of the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau. She is the first woman to hold the position.
“I was in complete shock and awe. I probably turned green, white, pink. I didn’t know what to think actually,” she says. “I don’t think I go into the position saying ‘I’m a woman in the position,’ but I go in saying, ‘I’m a leader and I”m going to do the best job that I can with the men and women that are serving with me.’"
That work ethic, the desire to lead, is in her blood. Her father was a commanding officer with the NYPD.
“I can remember as a little girl coming into the precinct, coming to the Christmas parties, sitting at his desk, seeing him work with these officers, and I said from the beginning, ‘Wow this is something that I want to do.’"
Born in the Bronx before moving to Long Island at a young age, Materasso also developed a passion for soccer.
She played for Florida International University as a goalkeeper. She says that time protecting the net got her ready to protect the city.
“I think 100% it helped. You’re a leader, so you’re on that team and the girls on that team, or whatever team I was part of, they look to you, they want to see that direction, and I apply that here,” she says.
That leadership was put to the test almost immediately after Materasso took her place behind the big desk – there was a mass shooting in Jersey City and a Hanukkah stabbing attack in Rockland County.
“We immediately sent assets to assist any way that we could. We also rapidly deployed our assets to different areas that we feel have potential to be a target,” she says.
Materasso insists on being prepared, especially as she leads the fight against terrorism.
“When we see the different attacks that are happening all over the world, we want to stay one step ahead of them. We want to make sure that is included in all of our training,” she says.
She calls the past 2 1/2 a months a smooth transition, and that’s no easy task.
Materasso is responsible for roughly 1,000 officers across multiple departments, including critical response command, the bomb squad and Lower Manhattan Security Initiative.
She has plenty of experience to draw upon. This month, she’s celebrating her 20th anniversary on the force, with most of those two decades across six different precincts in the one borough that holds a special place in her heart.
“Being part of the Bronx, being a police officer in the Bronx, working with the community in the Bronx, there’s nothing like it,” she says.
One of those precincts - the 41st in Longwood – is where she was not only a commanding officer but also it's where her Wonder Woman collection took off.
“Somebody just randomly left me a gracious thank you note, grateful for making the police command better, and that just started a collection. It was just a domino effect."
Materasso’s new office is surrounded by pictures, plaques and coins that all pay tribute to her life’s work, which she hopes will inspire not only her two daughters, but other young women as well.