By Todd Maisel
NYPD Chief of Transportation William T. Morris, one of the department’s top executive cops, died Saturday, June 6, from complications of COVID-19, police officials said.
Morris, 61, a three-star chief sworn in this past December, was in charge of traffic control, enforcement and highway patrols.
Commissioner Dermot Shea made the announcement Sunday in a Tweet in which he said, “It saddens me to inform you that, after nearly 39 yrs of service to the people of NYC, Chief of Transportation William T. Morris passed away on Saturday from #. The condolences & prayers of the entire department are with Billy & his loved ones during this difficult time.”
Chief of Department Terrence Monahan also mourned Morris in a Tweet saying, “NYC was a much different place in 1981 when Chief Billy Morris came on the Job. He was always proud to work alongside the greatest men & women in law enforcement to help turn around our city — that’s his legacy. We are all grateful to Billy for his service. Rest In Peace, friend.”
Other high-ranking officers including Deputy Commissioner of Counter Terrorism John Miller and Transit Bureau Chief Edward Delatorre, also had coronavirus, but recovered and have returned to duty.
Delatorre and Morris apparent were together in March and at other at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan after a transit cop shot herself dead. They and other top cops have been together at numerous functions in February and the beginning of March.
Morris is the 45th member of the department to die of Coronavirus.
Morris began his career on patrol after being appointed to the NYPD in July 1981. He served in posts throughout the city and commanded several precincts, including the 105th and 113th, and serving as executive officer of the 110th Precinct.
“The greatest things have been the opportunity to make a difference and the opportunity to accept every challenge for which the Police Department has selected me,” Morris told the Queens Courier in 2010 when he was appointed Commander of Queens South.
Morris has a bachelor’s degree from Queens College and a juris doctorate from Fordham University School of Law. A 1995 graduate of the Police Management Institute at Columbia University. He also served as a borough commander in Manhattan. Morris leaves behind a wife of 30 years and has three children.
Former Chief of Transit Joseph Fox who also had coronavirus but has recovered, knew Chief Morris well and worked with him for more than 25 years and attended the Police Management Institute with him.
“He was a brilliant man and I had the fortune of coming to know him rather well,” Fox said of having met him in 1995, they were among 15 captains attending the Columbia’s leadership program. “My fondest memories are of when we would take walks during breaks and talk about our lives and careers – I was ahead of him at the time in career tracks, but our careers were parallel. He brought a lot of substance, innovation and professionalism the department – he was an amazing man.”
Fox said he feels personal pain for this loss.
“I thought of Bill’s family and how the family of cops fear for their loved ones that they might get hurt, but then you go through the ranks and become and executive and the fear subsides,” Fox said. “That’s why this is so shocking in this case – he had thoughts and plans and this has been taken away from our city and the world.”