“No one has tried to kill me since 1997. I’m happy.” So speaks Ed D’Alessandro, former NYPD emergency services officer and current patrol officer for the Marco police department. The effusive D’Alessandro adds “Most people don’t spend their career picking locks and blowing things up.”
Most people don’t spend 12 years in the unit New York policemen call when they need backup.
The NYPD Emergency Services Unit had all the bomb-diffusing, building scaling, gun-slinging accessories a city needed to deal with train and helicopter crashes, spy on Gotti’s mob and combat run of the mill drug warfare in pre-Giuliani New York.
D’Alessandro got to play with nearly all the toys in his time. He has served countless drug warrants, talked jumpers off buildings, gone diving in the Hudson river for plane crash search and rescue, and come to the rescue of ‘Mega-Man,’ a judgment-challenged paraplegic prone to scaling landmarks like the George Washington Bridge.
Although it can seem as though the Marco department is a refuge for semi-retired big city cops, the experience these officers bring to the patrol route has proven invaluable to a relatively young department dealing with a population mash up of snowbirds seeking peace and quiet, vacationers looking for a party and a growing permanent population.
D’Alessandro has been a member of the community since 1997. He serves on the MICA board and is a Knight of Columbus and is also a union representative for the police department. “The department is a diverse pool of talent because you have a group of people who can hit the ground knowing what to do.”
It’s difficult to quantify crimes that don’t occur because of diligence,” he adds. He cites a recent case of high-value tools stolen from a contractor’s work site. They were recovered and an arrest made in the same day. In a place with fewer policing resources it’s a call that ends in an insurance claim and a wish for good luck.
Community policing in New York meant knocking out the cover for drug dealers who made a walk through Times Square a stroll in squalor. “It changed the entire culture [removing the street vendors]. The streets are safer so now people will walk, then the streets become safer because there are more people there.”
“Being a cop has afforded me the most incredible things: I got paid to jump out of helicopters, attend major political events.” Beyond the adrenaline rush, D’Alessandro feels a more humane draw to the work: “I picked it because of the instant gratification you feel when you help someone.”