Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 24 June 2011 00:00
As the Massapequa area begins to recover from the untimely deaths of two Nassau County police officers—Wantagh resident Michael J. Califano and Geoffrey J. Brietkopf—Long Islanders are now coming together to help the families of the victims.
The most recent manifestation of this was a huge picnic held Sunday, June 12, one designed to assist the families of both officers. Over 1,500 people gathered at Eisenhower Park for the charity event, one that was sponsored by the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association. The day not only saw good weather, it also featured live music and a DJ. All proceeds will go to the memorial funds of both men, whose deaths remain melancholy events for residents in the Massapequa area.
Califano was fatally injured on Feb. 4 in Old Westbury, when he was struck from behind by another vehicle as he was conducting a Vehicle and Traffic Law stop westbound on the Long Island Expressway at Exit 39.
Breitkopf, a 12-year veteran of the force from Selden, was killed on March 12 in an incident that police department officials termed as friendly fire as officers were responding to a robbery incident that took place in the Front Street area in Massapequa.
The June 12 event was another example of the PBA standing by the families of officers lost in the line of duty. Meanwhile, the New York State Senate and State Assembly have taken action to memorialize Officer Califano’s career. State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo (R—Merrick) recently announced that legislation he sponsors to rename a bridge after Michael Califano has been approved by the New York State Senate.
“Officer Califano was a devoted police officer who put himself in harm’s way every day to protect our safety,” Senator Fuschillo said. “His death was a tragic reminder of the dangers that police officers face each day while performing their duties. Renaming this bridge in Officer Califano’s honor would help ensure that his sacrifice and legacy of service are never forgotten.”
The legislation, the senator added, would rename the Glen Cove Road bridge overpass, which crosses over the Long Island Expressway in Old Westbury, as the “Police Officer Michael J. Califano Memorial Bridge.” The bridge is near the site where Officer Califano lost his life on Feb. 4.
“The members of the Nassau County PBA vowed never to forget our brother Police Officer Michael Califano’s ultimate sacrifice he made that tragic night, and never forget his dedicated service to our department,” said Peter Paterson, first vice president of the Nassau County PBA. “Renaming this bridge would further honor this commitment. On behalf of all the members of the Nassau County Police Department, we would like to thank Senator Fuschillo for sponsoring this legislation in the State Senate and for his efforts to see that it becomes enacted into law.”
The legislation has also been approved by the State Assembly and will be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo for consideration.