Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Courage to Serve" Exhibit

An exhibit honoring police officers killed or injured in the line of duty by drunk drivers is on display at the Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City, Long Island, until November 21, 2010 (*update: See the video below of the news conference and display).

According to Newsday, the relatives and supporters of Nassau police officer Kenneth Baribault and Suffolk police officer Glen Ciano gathered at the mall in Nassau County this past Monday to unveil the memorial, which is intended to remind drivers during the holiday season that driving under the influence can ruin many lives -- including those of police officers, such as Baribault and Ciano, whose patrol cars were struck while on duty. The photos below depict the mangled patrol vehicles of Officers Baribault and Ciano (photos via NY Daily News).

The memorial was unveiled less than 12 hours after a DWI arrest of a Brooklyn man who struck and killed an off-duty NYPD officer on the Northern State Parkway.

Suffolk Police Officer Glen Ciano, a 22-year veteran, was struck by a suspected drunk driver and killed on February 22, 2009. Nassau County officer Ken Baribault was severely injured on May 18, 2008, after his patrol unit was struck by an accused drunk driver on the Long Island Expressway during a traffic stop of a suspected drunk driver.

The exhibit was made possible through the efforts of Baribault's sister, Danielle Rella; Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

On Twitter, today is "Thank-a-Cop Thursday." I thank Officers Ciano, Baribault, and all law enforcement officers in New York for their devoted service and sacrifices to make Long Island a safer place to live. As a Suffolk County Police Officer for 21 years, I had the privilege of working with Glen Ciano in the Second Precinct; he is sorely missed by his friends, family, and colleagues.

If you are an active user of Twitter, you can participate in "Thank-a-Cop Thursday" by using the hashtag #tacop. Follow Mike Ellis of Emergency Communications Network, the man behind #tacop, at @EmergCommNetwrk. You can also follow Mothers Against Drunk Driving @MADDOnline.


  1. Kathleen - I'm so glad that there are memorials to officers who've lost their lives in the line of duty (even when they haven't been "on duty" at the time). I don't like speeding tickets any more than anyone else does (I mean, who does think they're fun?). But I have nothing but respect for the cops who work hard to make sure my drive to work is safe. I appreciate the cops who make sure that my daughter can go out at night and come home safely. I may not agree with everything every police officer does (who does?), but I know I would never have the courage to do what cops do all in a day's work.

  2. I'm really pleased to see this memorial. While there are many memorials honoring fallen officers, this one is particularly special to me. I lost my brother Max, an Albuquerque motor officer, to a drunk driver, and my cousin John David, a Texas DPS Trooper, to another drunk driver (a second Trooper at the scene also died, succumbing to a heart attack after witnessing John David's death). As a former police officer myself, I've seen far too many other tragedies caused by impaired drivers (including the loss of an aunt and another cousin in a single DUI crash). The more public awareness on the perils of impaired driving the better, and a great tribute to those heroes who have perished at the hands of these irresponsible individuals.

  3. Hi Margot,

    Believe me, police officers appreciate folks like you who appreciate them! Thanks for your support :-)

    Dear Gary,

    There aren't words to adequately express my sorrow for the devastating losses you and your family have endured. I am so sorry for the loss of so many loved ones -- and all at the hands of drunk drivers.

    Although it wasn't a drunk driver (it was a young, inexperienced driver who failed to yield right of way; actually, she ignored it, assuming no one was behind a turning truck), I lost my 37 year old brother -- the father of a five-month old boy, in a motorcycle crash, just four days before his 5th wedding anniversary -- so I can relate, Gary, with the tremendous grief of losing a sibling. Not a day has passed since May 20, 2001, that I haven't thought of my brother. I often feel his presence, and I've been fortunate to receive many powerful, irrefutable signs from him. I'm convinced that there's a consciousness that exists beyond the grave -- and that this universe is a lot bigger than we think.

    With the police background you and I possess, we are familiar with the destruction and heartache impaired drivers cause. I don't know if you're aware of the Martin Heidgen case -- he had 14 drinks before getting behind the wheel, and was convicted of MURDER (he drove 2 miles in the wrong direction, continuing despite the repeated warnings of other motorists) after he plowed into a limo carrying a family home from a wedding (the painful irony of this responsible family hiring a limo so that no one would drive drunk) -- he killed the limo driver and a 7-year-old flower girl -- a beautiful angel named Katie. I will never be able to erase the image from my mind's eye, that of Katie's traumatized mother cradling her daughter's decapitated head on the side of the road. It happened in Nassau County, LI, but here's a story from the UK about the case:

    I agree with you -- the more public awareness, the better -- if it prevents one person from driving in an intoxicated or drug-induced condition -- or gives one person the strength & courage to prevent a drunk driver from getting behind the wheel, it's absolutely worth it.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to you, Gary. May the fond memories of your loved ones help sustain you and your family -- especially during the upcoming holiday season when it can be so difficult to face without them. Thank you for reading my post and taking the time to write.

  4. I'm glad they have such a display, although it brings sadness to my heart to think about it.

  5. Hi Charles,
    I'm glad they have one, too. It's the first of its kind that I've heard about when it comes to law enforcement being injured or killed by drunk drivers. There are memorials for line of duty deaths, and I'm sure there are individual memorials for lives lost at the hands of drunk drivers, but until now, I have never heard about a memorial like this one. I've heard of schools displaying a crushed vehicle around prom time to discourage driving while intoxicated; but this may be a powerful reminder -- that no one -- even cops, can escape the devastation when a drunk driver enters their path.