Police Officers of the Month, February 2009

The Long Island Shields are proud to present its Officer of the Month Award to Susan Porcello, a Police Officer in the 68th Precinct in Bay Ridge. She is a Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Delegate, but tonight we are celebrating something she did “above and beyond” her official call of duty. She reached out to someone who had no else to help him, and she made a difference in his life.

Gaspar Musso was a member of the “greatest generation”. Born in 1924 he joined the United States Marine Corps in 1943, (during the Second World War), and he was trained in Camp Lejune. The Marines sent him to the Pacific, and in July of 1944, he fought in the Battle of Tinian. Over three-hundred American soldiers died in that battle. But it was an American victory – and the island that Gaspar helped to capture would become an important military base.

Fast forward to 2008, Gaspar was long out of the Marines, and was retired from a career as an insurance broker. He was living in an apartment on Marine Avenue, had diabetes, and other health issues. But perhaps hardest of all, he was alone all of his friends and family were deceased.

Then a mix-up in Gaspar’s medication led to a 911-medical call. And that’s when he met Officer Porcello.

Officer Porcello could have just taken Gaspar to Lutheran Medical Center, and let the doctors straighten things out. She could have said, “Goodbye and good luck,” and moved on to the next call. Instead she took responsibility.

She contacted a priest to visit Gaspar at the hospital, then had Missing Persons search for next-of-kin. She looked into Gaspar’s final arrangements, in case the worst happened. But most important, she invited Gaspar to Thanksgiving dinner with her family, they became the friend and family he needed.

When Gaspar left the hospital, Officer Porcello found him a nursing home. She visited him to made sure he was comfortable and made sure he was living with dignity. Just a few days later, she was able to make sure that he passed with dignity too!. With help from other police officers of the 68th Precinct, Gaspar had a proper wake, mass, and Marine Corps Honor Guard. Rather than being buried among strangers in Potter’s Field, Gaspar was then laid to rest beside his mother in Resurrection Cemetery.

This story has no arrests or shootouts. But it is a police story, because simple human compassion is an important part of the job. Officer Porcello has demonstrated an inspiring kind of selflessness, and it the honor and privilege of the Long Island Shields, to present her with a well-deserved Police Officer of the Month Award for February, 2009.