Michael B. Mukasey
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Mukasey:
I was distressed by the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) decision to deny the families of New York City Police Department (NYPD) Auxiliary Police Officers Eugene Marshalik and Nicholas Pekearo federal death benefits extended to public safety officers, and I urge DOJ to reconsider.
As you know, Officers Marshalik and Pekearo were killed in the line of duty on March 14, 2007, as they followed an armed man who had killed a pizzeria employee in the West Village neighborhood of my State Senate District. By so doing, they were upholding the mission of the NYPD Auxiliary Police Program: providing an enhanced, uniformed community presence in order to prevent crimes from occurring and to quickly report crimes when they do occur. Tragically, the gunman fired at and killed both Officer Marshalik and Officer Pekearo as they performed their duty.
The City of New York has already awarded the families of Officers Marshalik and Pekearo the death benefits available to Auxiliary Police Officers. It is my understanding that the Public Safety Officers benefits program administered by the DOJ defines a public safety officer as "an individual serving a public agency in an official capacity, with or without compensation, as a law enforcement officer..." Given that definition and the facts of this case, it only makes sense that the DOJ follow suit and recognize these brave men as public safety officers within the meaning of the law.
I would most appreciate your reconsideration of this important matter. Should you have any questions, please contact me at my district office at (212) 633-8052.
Thomas K. Duane
New York State Senate