Written by Christy Hinko Friday, 25 November 2011 00:00
On Tuesday, Nov. 15 Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, Assemblyman Dave McDonough, officers from the Nassau County Police Department, and members of the Califano family held a ceremony to dedicate the “Police Officer Michael J. Califano Memorial Bridge” in memory of Nassau County Police Officer Michael Califano, who was killed in the line of duty earlier this year.
Senator Fuschillo and Assemblywoman Schimel authored a law, co-sponsored by Assemblyman McDonough, renaming the Glen Cove Road bridge overpass that crosses over the LIE the “Police Officer Michael J. Califano Memorial Bridge.” The law was passed by both the Senate and Assembly in June and signed by Governor Cuomo in August.
Califano, a resident of Wantagh was fatally injured Friday, Feb. 4 while conducting a traffic stop near exit 39 in Old Westbury on the Long Island Expressway.
Califano’s squad car was struck from behind by another vehicle. Califano, a 12-year veteran of the force, sustained fatal injuries as a result of the collision. The defendant, a flatbed truck driver, was allegedly asleep at the wheel and subsequently arrested on charges including criminally negligent homicide.
“Our brother Police Officer Michael Califano was a devoted and dedicated officer who served our Department and County with honor. We made a vow that his ultimate sacrifice and service would never be forgotten. Renaming this bridge in his memory will help honor that commitment. On behalf of all the members of the Nassau County Police Department, we thank Senator Fuschillo, Assemblywoman Schimel, and Assemblyman McDonough for their efforts to make this tribute to Officer Califano a reality,” said Peter Paterson, First Vice President of the Nassau County PBA.
“Michael Califano was a devoted police officer and a loving family man who always went above and beyond to help others whether he knew them or not. We must never, ever forget the ultimate sacrifice he made for the people of Nassau County. Renaming this bridge in Officer Califano’s honor will help ensure that his legacy of service and heroism will always be remembered,” said Senator Fuschillo (R-Merrick).
“I am pleased to have been part of the initiative and cosponsor this measure making this tribute to Officer Michael Califano a reality. Memorializing Officer Califano through this tribute will ensure that the people of Nassau County never forget his dedication to our communities,” said Assemblyman McDonough (R-North Merrick).
More than 100 members of Officer Califano’s family, including his wife Jackie and three sons Michael, Christopher, and Andrew, attended the ceremony.
“By naming the bridge, we honor the memory of police officer Michael Califano and in a small measure thank his family for his dedication and service,” said Assemblywoman Schimel (D-Great Neck).
Senator Fuschillo presented framed copies of the law to the Califano family and asked for the family’s assistance in unveiling the replica sign that will be installed at the bridge.
In the aftermath of the tragic accident that killed Califano and a series of injuries and accidents involving law enforcement officials during routine traffic stops over the course of the last decade, Senator Charles Schumer immediately called for a safety audit of the Long Island Expressway (LIE).
Schumer’s office recently released a safety audit of the LIE that had been requested in March 2011 to address long-standing safety hazards faced by law enforcement personnel conducting routine traffic operations on the roadway.
Schumer had toured dangerous ramps, shoulders, and road conditions on the LIE with the NCPD and immediately called on the Federal Highway Safety Administration (FHWA) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to conduct the Road Safety Audit.
The report released by Schumer makes several recommendations to bolster roadway conditions along the LIE. Schumer has called on NYSDOT to tap into federal Surface Transportation Formula funding of $1.7 billion, which includes a $41 million allocation that was administered to New York last year, to help implement the recommendations and increase safety along the LIE.
“The bottom line is that police officers routinely put their lives on the line to keep us safe and we, when it comes to the shockingly dangerous conditions on the LIE, must do all we can to keep them safe. The recommendations in this report provide clear and common sense recommendations for protecting our local police officers who are needlessly required to put their lives on the line while conducting the most routine of traffic stops on the Long Island Expressway,” said Schumer. “Now we must invest in making these recommendations a reality, and I am urging that we use all available surface transportation federal funding to see that happen.”