DEA President Testifies Before The New York City Council Committee on Civil Service and LaborMay 6, 2020
Testimony of Paul DiGiacomo
President, Detectives Endowment Association, Inc
The New York City Council Committee on Civil Service and Labor
May 5, 2020
Good afternoon Chair Miller and Members of the Committee on Civil Service & Labor. I am Detective Paul DiGiacomo, I am the President of the New York City Detectives Endowment Association. I have the privilege of representing more than 17,000 active and retired New York City detectives.
I submit this testimony in support of the pre-considered introduction to extend medical benefits to the surviving families of municipal workers who have died due to COVID-19 and the pre-considered resolution calling on the New York State legislature to pass a law to classify all such deaths as line-of-duty deaths.
I would like to begin by recognizing the dedication and sacrifice the doctors, nurses, and all the healthcare workers and our first responder brothers and sisters in the NYPD, FDNY, EMS as well as corrections, sanitation, transit and others who are out there every day ensuring the health and safety of all New Yorkers.
I want to also extend our sincere condolences to the families of all of those who have been taken away by this horrible virus. We have lost five of our brother detectives. We understand your loss and share your grief.
COVID-19 is a silent and invisible bullet that kills and has proven to be far more dangerous and deadly than any terrorist attack or any criminal. It knows no boundaries and has no limits.
Our members understand we will be subjected to risks when they join our ranks. Despite this knowledge we commit by swearing and fulfilling the oath to “serve and protect.” Upon taking that oath we commit ourselves to be among those who run toward danger when others are running away to safety.
The world saw our commitment on Sept. 11, 2001 and its aftermath. Our members were among those who searched through the pile at Ground Zero and later on Staten Island at the Fresh Kills landfill, as well as the city morgue looking for any sign of those who were lost; anything to bring comfort and closure to the families of the almost 3,000 victims.
Today, while our city is on lockdown and our neighbors are told to shelter at home. Our members have been out there fulfilling that oath. These five have paid the ultimate price.
Detective Cedric Dixon, a 23-year veteran of the NYPD was the first member of the department to be taken away by this virus. He leaves behind two daughters. Detective Robert Cardona, a 19-year veteran, who was stricken with cancer in the aftermath of 9/11, leaves behind an 8 year-old son. Detective Jack Polimeni, a 23-year veteran leaves behind his wife Patricia. April 13 we lost two of our brother detectives. Detective Jeffrey Scalf, a 14-year veteran who leaves behind a wife and three daughters; and most heartbreaking of all, Detective Raymond Abear, a 19-year veteran of the department leaves behind a wife and two babies. The eldest is two-years old, and his sister is a five-month old infant who will never know her father.
This being the darkest time in the history of the rank of detective in the NYPD. Losing five members in a two week period to this silent killer, the Corona Virus.
Each of these men took and fulfilled their oaths to serve and protect. They did it and paid the ultimate price because they expected our City and our government would fulfill its obligation to protect those who serve. That obligation extends to protecting their families when they perish, fulfilling their oaths. Extending healthcare benefits for the surviving families of these five detectives and the families of all other fellow municipal workers who have become casualties in the war against COVID-19, as well as classifying their deaths as line-of-duty deaths, is a moral obligation. Just as we protect the surviving families of detectives struck down by a perpetrator’s bullet, we must protect those of detectives who fall victim to COVID-19.
We urge you to approve expeditiously the pre-considered bill and resolution in order to fulfill the sacred obligation owed to the families of Detectives Dixon, Cardona, Polimeni, Scalf, and Abear.
And as we have this hearing today to ensure the families of our fallen get everything they so very much need – they currently have no health benefits to help them as they fight a sickness that took their husband, father, or son. Our heroes of New York City deserve to have those they loved taken care of – they certainly earned it.