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A fallen hero was remembered Sunday as family, friends and members of the various communities touched by Detective Anthony Venditti rededicated the Ridgewood park that bears his name — 25 years after he was killed in the line of duty.
“I stand here today with my four nieces so you can see my brother did not leave us, but he left us a legacy,” said Pashcal Venditti, his voice pausing to utter the brief, emotional statement.
When Detective Venditti was killed Jan. 20, 1986, while conducting an investigation into the Genovese crime family, his youngest daughter, Katelyn, was but a month old.
“I’m very grateful the community is here to remember my father after 25 years. Obviously, he was a dedicated detective, but he was a father and a husband first,” Katelyn told TimesLedger Newspapers.
She was joined by her grandmother Anna, mother Patty and sisters Patrice, Andrea and Traysia — who is married to an officer in the 105th Precinct — as the NYPD’s top cop recalled the dedication that marked Venditti’s service in the department.
“Detective Anthony J. Venditti was a talented and dedicated individual who made the supreme sacrifice while protecting this community 25 years ago,” said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
He told a story of how, as a trainee in the NYPD’s telephone switchboard center, Venditti saved the life of a suicidal Brooklyn woman by convincing her to divulge her location so that police could take her to the hospital.
“It was an auspicious beginning for what would be a stellar career,” he said.
After two years as a trainee, in 1982 Venditti was assigned to patrol the Bronx’s 50th and then 48th precincts, where he catalogued hundreds of arrests, many of them for violent crimes. In 1984, he received the gold shield of detective, and Kelly said his “fluency in Italian” and “street smarts” made him a natural Mafia investigator.
It was while investigating the Genovese crime family, at the age of 34, that he was shot and killed at the corner of St. Nicholas Avenue and Woodbine Street. His funeral was held at St. Mel’s in Flushing. Kelly said Venditti received 17 commendations, including a posthumous medal of honor, and his funeral in Flushing was attended by more than 5,000 officers.
Venditti, who rode a Honda Goldwing motorcycle, also founded the Bronx chapter of the Blue Knights, the international motorcycle club for active and retired law enforcement officers. The street abutting the park was lined with motorcycles as nearly 40 members paid their respects, wearing the club’s blue leather vests.
“Today we celebrate his life and honor his memory,” Kelly said. “He worked tirelessly to combat crime and gave everything he had to protect this city.”
Ted Renz, executive director of the Ridgewood Business Improvement District, read a statement from former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, commending Venditti for the “service and altruism displayed in his short life.”
Renz said the BID had just days before completed a new landscaping addition in the park, which also bears an evergreen tree memorializing another fallen officer, Scott Gadell.
The ceremony concluded with the laying of 60 carnations — Venditti would have been 60 this year — on a memorial plaque that reads “Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean; who is neither tarnished nor afraid.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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