By Alberto Gilman
In honor of National Police Week 2023, members of the New Windsor Police Department leadership which included New Windsor Police Chief Dan Valeri along with Lieutenant Matt Monahan, Sergeant Hannah Lake, PBA President Frank Volpe and School Safety Officer Hardy Pierce participated in the 2023 Virtual National Police Week Memorial 5K. This race united thousands of law enforcement officers and their supporters to remember those officers killed in the line of duty.
Each of the officers ran in honor of an officer(s), some who they personally knew along in their careers.
Chief Valeri ran in honor of Sergeant Vincent Oliva and Officer John Cortazzo of the Port Authority Police Department, both of whom died as a result of illnesses sustained during the rescue and recovery efforts following the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. Chief Valeri was a classmate of Cortazzo and a student ofOliva when he attended the Port Authority Police Explosive Detection Canine School in 2001.
Lt. Monahan ran in honor of NYPD Officer Patrick Monroe, who died as a result of cancer that he developed following his assignment to the search and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Officer Monroe was the uncle of New Windsor Officer Joseph Finnerty. Sgt. Lake dedicated her run to the memory of NYPD Detective Michael Hanson. Det. Hanson died of a neurological illness which was likely attributed to his response to the 9/11 World Trade Center Attack. His family is still awaiting the line of duty death designation.
Officer Pierce, who is assigned as the School Safety Officer at the Little Britain Elementary School, ran with school employees Todd Grodin, Marisa Sitko, Lindsey Krause and Jeanna Santagato, who chose to join his team for the event. Together they ran in honor of Officer Breann Leath. Officer Leath was an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer who was shot and killed on April 9, 2020 while responding to a domestic disturbance.
In addition to honoring the fallen officers, Valeri had created the team to participate in this year’s event to promote wellness and unity within the department. Valeri also ran the 3.1 miles in his department-issued bulletproof vest as a reminder to officers that there is no good reason not to wear their body armor.
The National Police Week 5K was presented by The Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP), a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring America’s fallen law enforcement heroes. As the largest law enforcement memorial in the United States, ODMP preserves the memories of 26,000+ fallen officers in its online memorial and reflection pages.