Maspeth officer killed 45 years ago honored with street renaming

By Gina Martinez

A Maspeth NYPD detective who died in the line of duty 45 years ago was honored Saturday with a street renaming. The Maspeth block where he lived with his wife and children, 62nd Street and 53rd Drive, will now be co-named “Detective Joseph A. Picciano Way”

“It takes a special person to protect and serve as a member of our NYPD,” City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) said. “You must be brave, you must be committed and you must be selfless – all qualities very apparent in Detective Picciano.”

Picciano’s widow, Theresa, and their three children attended the renaming, along with dozens of family members and officers. His wife told reporters what the co-naming meant to her.

“It’s a very important day for my children that their father was honored in this way and it’s a beautiful thing,” she said. “The Police Department I know because I know a lot of the widows and they are always with us.”

Picciano died on Feb. 15, 1971 while working at the 41st Precinct in the Bronx. He was fingerprinting a man accused of abducting a 13-year-old boy. Picciano and the suspect got into a scuffle when his revolver fell to the floor, the suspect grabbed the gun and shot Picciano twice, killing him. He was the first officer to die in the line of duty in the 41st Precinct.

Detective Picciano’s cousin, Ann Cozanni, reached out to Crowley’s office a year ago with the request to honor her late cousin with a street co-naming. In just a few months Crowley’s office was able to get the renaming approved. “This street co-naming will keep Detective Picciano’s legacy thriving,” Crowley said.

Robert Boyce, NYPD chief of detectives, spoke to reporters and said the department never forgets the sacrifices of its officers, no matter how much time has passed.

“1971 seems like a long time ago,” Boyce said. “The city was a different place because of the sacrifice of police officers than what we have now, the safest city in America. So we’re enormously proud of that and we can never forget who helped us get there. Joe Picciano did.”

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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