Fallen Officers Honored
Sign Dedicated To Longobardo During Ceremony At School
To honor and memorialize the ultimate sacrifice of fallen trooper Joseph A. Longobardo, the Badge of Honor Association–in conjunction with the Persell Middle School eighth grade honor society– held a sign dedication ceremony at Persell Middle School on Saturday morning.
BOHA was created in 2007 by Rochester police officer Justin Collins. It is composed of only volunteers and focuses on raising money for the families of police officers in the event of a line-of-duty death, as well as supporting officers and the families of officers involved in critical or serious incidents while on duty. BOHA supports all law enforcement agencies across the 25 counties of western and central New York. Since 2007, BOHA has and continues to support the families of 11 officers who were killed or injured in the line-of-duty.
Branden Maggio, Chautauqua County BOHA chapter manager and retired Jamestown Police Department patrolman, explained in greater detail the essential functions and services of BOHA.
“We raise money through private donations, business donations and fundraisers to help support our officers,” Maggio said. “We remain in contact with the families we support, and provide support emotionally as well as financially. This year, for example, we took the children of these families Christmas shopping with officers from departments all through our 25 county coverage area. We took the 11 families to Darien Lake for a night of camping in the cabins, made them breakfast the next day, and then they had a day at the park.
“We took one family to a Bisons’ game. We provide college textbooks and housing assistance also to the children of those families. We’re not a here’s-your-check-and-go organization — we like to stay in it for the long haul. We’re here for them.”
Maggio, who was involved in a line-of-duty shooting in 2009, said the secondary function of BOHA is to reach out to any officer involved in a serious incident and offer support and recognition for a job well done. This function is mostly achieved through the BOHA’s annual policeman’s ball, which will be held this year at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center on Saturday, May 20.
“None of us do this job for awards,” Maggio said, “but I can assure you, first hand, it was much appreciated during that time.”
Community Figures Express Appreciation
The dedication ceremony began with a short word from master of ceremony Sgt. Michael Ciulla, Rochester Police Department and BOHA member. Ciulla explained that, as the son of a police officer, he always looked up to law enforcement officials. As an adult, once deciding to go into law enforcement himself, he fully expected his reverence to cool; yet his admiration for the trade and its officials has maintained its vim.
“After seven years and three months (as an officer), my admiration has only grown,” Ciulla said. “Police officers aren’t extraordinary people. They’re ordinary, everyday people who are tasked to do extraordinary things. And they do them, day-in and day-out, with dedication–for their communities, their families and hundreds of people they will never know.”
President Gregory P. Rabb spoke on behalf of Mayor Samuel Teresi and his fellow colleagues in the Jamestown City Council, as well as the community in general. He expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to participate in such a worthwhile event, and gave appreciation that his position on the city council allows him to work so closely with the men and women of local law enforcement.
“It continuously reminds me that my community, my neighborhood, my life and my house are safer because there are men and women on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Rabb said. “In my other job as a professor at Jamestown Community College, I have helped to educate, at this point, thousands of men and women who have gone on into careers in law enforcement. I’m always impressed by their dedication and their willingness to serve the community and put their lives at risk.”
Persell Students Honor The Fallen
As the father of two students of Persell, Maggio knew that the BOHA dedication ceremony would be a great opportunity for student involvement.
“I had the idea to ask the Persell eighth grade honor society to help with this ceremony because I believe in community policing,” Maggio said, “and I feel the kids’ involvement can help them better understand and appreciate what we do.”
Lina Scoma, seventh and eighth grade science teacher and head of the Persell eighth grade honor society, strongly agreed with Maggio’s sentiment.
“The reason I thought it was important (to participate in this event) was because it made (the students) a little bit more humble as members of their community,” Scoma said. “Everyone is affected by these tragedies, and I don’t think they realized before how much law enforcement actually does for us. It was a really great experience for the students.”
In addition to interviewing officers from different police departments in the area about why they chose law enforcement as an occupation and creating a 10 minute video based on that information, four members of the eighth grade honor society were tasked with writing biographies of the four honored fallen officers. Respectively, students Alexandria Moss, Vanessa DeStevens, Steven Dewey and Sydney Moss were tasked with writing the biographies of fallen officers Gary Kubasiak, Jerome Nugent, Thomas Buck and Joseph Longobardo. According to Dewey, the four students each spent the better part of a day interviewing family members and writing the biographies of the fallen officers.
“I feel that it was important (to honor these officers) because they protected and served us, even though they didn’t personally know us,” Dewey said. “It was very important to me to honor what they did. We would work on this during lunch or whenever we had the time. We tried to write them so we could show the officers’ most important aspects.”
Of the four officers honored during the ceremony, the loss of Trooper Longobardo still resonates the loudest. He was shot during a manhunt by escaped prisoner Ralph “Bucky” Phillips while on Bachellor Hill Road in the town of Pomfret on Aug. 31, 2006. Also shot that day was Trooper Donald Baker Jr. Baker slipped into a coma but after multiple surgeries recovered from his injuries while Longobardo did not, dying on Sept. 3, 2006, a year before the BOHA was established. Maggio and the BOHA recognized his sacrifice, as well as the sacrifices of his fellow honored fallen officers.
As each officer’s sign was revealed and dedicated, Dewey, DeStevens and Alexandria and Sydney Moss read their respective biographies.
“State Trooper Joseph Longobardo won many awards,” read Sydney Moss. “The awards he won include the National Defense Service Medal, good conduct medal, Navy Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon, rifle expert badge, pistol expert badge and numerous letters of appreciation.”
Sydney told of how Longobardo grew up on a small farm, loved fast cars and playing baseball and being a boy scout. He knew wanted to become a police officer when his mother was tasked with raising him and his sister as a single parent, citing a need to become the man of the house.
“Joe Longobardo died on a tragic day in September, when he was shot in his upper left thigh, causing severe bleeding,” Sydney continued.
For more information on the BOHA or to make a donation, please visit www.boha.info.