Archives of Rudolph W. Giuliani

Mayor's WINS Address
Sunday, August 29, 1999

Honoring Those Who Risk Their Lives to Save Ours
by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani

For the work they do every day in all of our neighborhoods, our police officers and firefighters have earned the permanent respect and gratitude of New Yorkers throughout the city. But this week, I had the opportunity to honor a number of police officers and firefighters whose extraordinary courage earned them special, additional recognition.

On Tuesday, Police Commissioner Safir and I commended retired New York City Police sergeant Eugene Assencao, who risked his life to confront three assailants at a convenience store in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn early Sunday morning.

While on his rounds for an armored car company, Mr. Assencao observed three perpetrators-one of them wielding a weapon-threatening the staff of the store. After instructing his partner to call 911, Mr. Assencao entered the store with his registered handgun and told the gun-wielding perpetrator to drop his weapon. The man aimed his gun at Mr. Assencao's head, at which point Mr. Assencao defended himself by shooting the man in the stomach. The robbery-which could have resulted in the loss of innocent lives-was foiled. And the perpetrators Mr. Assencao helped catch appear to have been responsible for up to 11 other robberies.

And if that incident weren't enough proof of the heroism of those who put their lives on the line for us every day, on Wednesday I honored the firefighters and police officers who conducted a mid-air rescue of two construction workers who, while waterproofing a building, were left dangling from a cable twelve stories above the ground when their scaffold gave way.

Teams from the Fire Department's Squad 41 and the Police Department's Emergency Services Unit reacted immediately, positioning themselves on the roof and on the ground while one firefighter and one police officer were lowered from ropes anchored to the roof. The construction workers were then brought down the side of the building to safety.

I know that on a daily basis, the people of the city appreciate the sacrifice of the men and women of the Police and Fire Departments. But too often, we take their extraordinary risks-and their heroism-for granted. Too often we focus on the few examples of misconduct rather than the many, many examples of exemplary behavior. As the City paused this week to thank these officers for their service and sacrifice, we're also thanking all those whose quieter, less dramatic acts save lives and protect people from harm every day.

This is Rudy Giuliani.

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