Hundreds gather in New Dorp for vigil honoring NYPD officers killed in the line of duty
By Ryan Lavis
Retired detective Thomas Kosnik had only one reason for attending a vigil Thursday that honored NYPD officers killed in the line of duty: he wanted to keep the memory alive of his slain colleagues, Det. James Nemorin, and Det. Rodney Andrews, who were executed on Staten Island in 2003 during an undercover operation gone wrong.
“I’m here to remember these guys I worked with — they were brilliant undercovers, and I don’t want them to be forgotten,” Kosnik said, holding a memorial poster showing the faces of his fallen colleagues.
Kosnik was one of roughly 300 community members who gathered for the vigil held outside the 122nd Police Precinct stationhouse in New Dorp Thursday evening.
Scott LoBaido, a local artist and community activist, organized the vigil last week by launching a grassroots social media campaign. The turnout, he said, was more than anyone expected.
“I’m surprised, but I’m not, because the people have it in their hearts,” LoBaido said. “We’re not here to bash anyone — we’re here to pay homage and light some candles for these heroes we forget about.”
The solemn remembrance included a moment of silence for the 813 New York City cops killed in the line of duty, dating back to the year 1872. Organizers draped a banner displaying the name of each slain officer over a police barricade in front of the stationhouse.
Others who attended waved signs that read “I heart NYPD” to the oncoming traffic along Hylan Boulevard, as many drivers honked their horns in solidarity with the crowd.
Several elected officials also attended the event, including Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn), Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-East Shore/Brooklyn), Assemblyman Joe Borelli (R-South Shore) and Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-South Shore).
“We need to remember the officers that have fallen and we need to remember the officers that put that uniform on right now and face that danger every single day,” Grimm said.
Scattered throughout the vigil were family members of law enforcement agents, some who criticized what they called an unfair backlash against cops in the wake of Eric Garner – the 43-year-old father of six who died last month on Staten Island after a police officer placed Garner in a chokehold while attempting to arrest him on charges of selling untaxed cigarettes.
Several who attended Thursday’s vigil spoke out against a march and rally that Rev. Al Sharpton is leading Saturday on Staten Island to protest Garner’s death.
“If it’s peaceful Saturday, then fine, but I don’t think de Blasio and Sharpton should give them free reign about everything,” said Jean Borruso, an Eltingville resident who’s two sons are NYPD officers.
Adding, “Saturday’s rally is unnecessary — I don’t see it as a racial issue; these cops don’t get up in the morning and say ‘I’m going to cause trouble’.”
Still, she and many others said Thursday’s vigil remained solely about honoring fallen cops.
“I came here to pray for the lost police officers that we had — it’s nothing political,” Ms. Borruso said.
LoBaido noted that his decision to hold the NYPD vigil came long before the Garner news broke last month.
“There’s no insensitivity to the Garner family — God bless that they can march and we can do this, too, ” LoBaido said.
For Det. Kosnik, he simply wanted to remember Det. Nemorin, Det. Andrews and the many others who gave their lives while on-duty.
“I’m not here because of recent events,” Kosnik said. “I don’t want these guys to be forgotten; that’s all my point is and that’s all I’m here for — to make sure everyone knows about these heroes.”