On May 13, 2015, nearly 80 people assembled at the Police Memorial plaza in front of the Rockland County Courthouse to pay respects and salute fallen law enforcement officers in a “Night the Light” vigil.
The tribute was hastily organized in response to the murder of 25 year old, New York City Police Officer Brian Moore. PO Moore was killed in the line of duty when he questioned an armed suspect who drew his weapon, then executed him.
“He was killed Tuesday and I was sad, Wednesday I got mad and spoke to Capt. Concannon, Thursday we applied for this permit, we got it on Friday and here we are today on Wednesday.” Said; Anthony Melé, one of the Rockland County organizers.
There were multiple vigils on the same day, organized city – wide by former NYPD Capt. Joseph Concannon; who is a well known and respected advocate for police officers safety.
Wasting no time, organizers contacted family, friends, civic groups, various law enforcement and veterans organizations throughout Rockland County. They each burned up telephone lines, sent out mass e-mails, utilizing every other means of communications, except smoke signals to get the word out soonest possible.
The devoted participants included Boy Scout Troop 2078, chartered to St. Anthony’s Church in Nanuet, who provided their very sharp Color Guard, Joseph Negrin and Daniel Hernandez, led by Scout Master Jeffrey Negrin. Special hat tip goes to Bugler Peter Powers who played a stirring and flawless rendition of Taps and Protocol Officer George Raft who ensured the dignity of the event went by the book.
Supporters included the Office of the County Executive, Office of the Sheriff, the Latino National Republican Coalition of Rockland County, the 65th Infantry Honor Task Force, Chevalier Tino Ruta, the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem – Priory of St. Patricks – Knights Templar, retired Emergency Dispatcher Peter F. Medina, Knights of Columbus member Joseph Ciardullo, retired NYPD Officer Al Amoros, National Latino Officers Association, New York State Troopers, Captain Brenden Casey, Angel Rivera, NYPD, ASISS/Shadow Security, AMI Global Security, LLC, retired Spring Valley Police Chief Howard Goldin, the American Legion, the Order of the Purple Heart, Woodbury PD, County Legislator Doug Jobson, Legislator Lon Hofstein, Clarkstown Clerk Justin Sweet, and special mention go to “Frank” New City Courthouse maintenance engineer for his dedication.
The cooperation and accommodations made by the people who attended were driven by genuine sincerity. Despite conflicting logistics, short notice and other obligations of resources in preparation for the upcoming annual Law Enforcement Memorial to be held on the 18th of May; the turn out was respectable. The representatives were qualitative where they could not be quantitative.
Clarkstown Police Chief Sullivan provided their department Chaplain who presided over the benediction. Captain Casey from New York State Troopers deployed 4 Troopers in full uniform. The Rockland County Sheriff Department assigned Chief Bill Barbera who took the opportunity to use the event as a teaching moment.
Chief Barbera instructed the audience about the significance of what it means when an Officer is in “need of assistance” and hit home the point when he recognized Rockland resident and retired NYPD Emergency Services Unit Police Officer Jose R. Guerra, who engaged in a fierce gun battle to protect 4 other of his fellow officers who were wounded in that attack.
PO Guerra stopped the attacker, but not before being nearly fatally wounded himself, sustaining multiple shotgun wounds. He was revived twice, but his will to survive prevailed. PO Guerra was decorated with the NYPD Medal of Honor. This is the highest award for valor that can be bestowed.
Chief Barbera explained; “PO Guerra’s and others [from his team-members] names could have been on this memorial wall today, if it turned out differently.”
County Executive Ed Day, who is also a retired NYPD Precinct Commander in his visibly, emotionally moving remarks told the standing crowd as he addressed the Law Enforcement Officers present; “You can take it to the bank, that me, and every municipal government official in Rockland County have your backs.”
That sentiment summed up why so many came out on this windy, chilly May evening, holding flashlights and carved out this time in a dignified demonstration of respect and honor for the men and women who serve in our Law Enforcement Community.