A Tribute: 9th Precinct Recognition Ceremony

This is so amazing. I’m thankful that Bryan R. forwarded me his beautiful speech about Dave. It was a very emotional and meaningful tribute. Thank you, Bryan. It’s so clear that you really understood, loved, and respected Dave and you honored him beautifully.

Here’s the transcript:

Good evening, Chief Morris, Inspector Venice, supervisors and fellow colleagues, family, friends, and anyone else I don’t give a crap about.

KIDDING!  I had to lighten the mood before emotions pour out of our hearts.

I’d like to thank Neil Barsky, Pam Zone, the community council, and Officer Ray Layden, Mike Ranieri, and others for offering the opportunity to talk to every one of you tonight.  Since March 2nd, I have been fielding phone calls and meeting with a wide array of news outlets, all asking the same questions.  I willingly accepted and sat with individuals while attempting to keep a strong, brave face on (and no, they did NOT do my makeup prior).  I sat with strangers and I attempted to tell the world about a person, yet words slipped my mind when cameras began to roll.  I just could not get out exactly what I wanted to say.  Try as I may, my mind went blank.

My mind went blank because I was talking to strangers.  My mind went blank because I wanted the universe to know a thing or two about one of my closest, greatest friends.

And now, I stand here with the same opportunity, before each and every one of you.

You, my family.

The same family I shared with David Hofer.

As a kid, I used to believe police officers were indestructible.  The nightly news at dinner-time was a daily Rozanski routine in my household, yet all I focused on were sports highlights.  It wasn’t until my later-teenage years that I began to follow local news stories, and my perception of Police Officers began to change as well.  Real danger flooded the streets I continued to walk, and real tragedies came with it.  The indestructible police officers I idolized as a child were risking their lives daily, and some unfortunately never made it through the night.  This all became apparent to me in the summer of 2007.  I remember sitting exactly at the dinner table, next to my father, and watching as a news anchor reported the death of Police Officer Russell Timoshenko, five days after being mortally wounded while serving his purpose as a protector of New York City. 

It slowly started to become real to me, this job that I currently perform.

Yet that didn’t stop me from swearing an oath two years later.

Nor did it stop David Hofer.

I was transferred to the 9th precinct in April, 2012.  I remember walking into the muster room before my very first roll call, and the first person to stand out was Dave.  This tall, pale, hulking man with a goofy smile and high pitched laugh.

He stared at me and I stared back.  We only slightly knew OF each other from our previous command.

And the very first words he ever said to me were rather elegant and sweet:

“Dude, who the F are you?”

And that’s when the “bromance” began. 

For anyone who has ever had the privilege to meet Dave, I’m sure you can agree with me about the kind of person he was: smart, polite, kind, and absolutely hysterical.  He was a phenomenal police officer, one or two steps ahead of the game.  He was a ring-leader whom every socialite at the 9th approached for that night’s plans (which was mostly answered with, “Bar None”).  Above anything else, Dave’s first and foremost care was to mold his life exactly as he wanted to.  He molded it with happiness and humor.  He molded it with absolute eternal love for his family.  He completed his architecture with his one, true love, Marta.  Dave may have complained about “the system,” but I still cannot think of a day where Dave complained about LIFE.  I complain about traffic or people who walk slowly on the sidewalk.  Dave, rather, found optimism in every aspect of life.

He was also very good at convincing me to join him and a select-few others with a very SPECIFIC tattoo, as well as convincing me to become “engaged.”  Sorry, mom and dad, for that heart-attack. 

Dave and I were each other’s backup partners, though we often chose not to work patrol when grouped together.

Why?

God forbid we were stuck with a lousy arrest that would cause migraines and diarrhea!  We avoided them like a plague, and thanked our partners, Mike Sarro and Dave Bowman, for taking anything and everything arrest-worthy.

Yet, when we did work the streets, we produced with the potential we were born with.  Our first and only gun-collar came in broad daylight (assisted by Rob Ceci and our fallen brother Joe Capo).  For it, we were “Cops of the Month” for the month of May 2013 (and man were Sarro and Bowman PISSED!). 

He was an absolute gem of a police officer, Dave.  Dave wanted to better his life and therefore moved to Texas two years ago, while wanting to continue to protect and serve.  I was devastated, but as true friendships go, I visited every other month or every three months, staying with him and his fiancé every single time.  Every departing hug ended with, “I guess I’ll see you next month or after?”

It was the same phrase we uttered to each other on Thursday, Feburary 25th, 2016, after a warm embrace. 

It would be the last phrase we would ever utter to each other.

March 1st, 2016 feels like yesterday.  I stand here, waiting for our brother, Billy McNeece, to call my phone and tell me Dave is going to make it.  Yet I stand here, thirty days later, still waiting.  Truth is, I’m never going to receive that phone call.  Truth is, I received a phone call stating quite the opposite, and my world was forever-crushed.  Truth is, I and everyone else who has ever met Dave only have memories to look back on.  Yet they’re memories we most certainly will never forget.

If the legacy of a man should be defined by the moments and marks he’s left on everyone he’s every met in life, then a big chunk of Dave will live with all of us.

On March 1st, 2016, my best friend, my former partner, and my brother made the ULTIMATE sacrifice.  Dave approached a situation for the sake of saving the lives of strangers.  Dave engaged a threat with more bravery than anyone in this room.  Dave died protecting the great state of Texas.  Dave died wearing New York City on his sleeve.  Dave died a supreme hero.  Dave died for you and I.

Two other super-heroes, Mike Sarro and Ed Pietrowski, avenged Dave immediately, by ending a threat while bullets rained down on them.  Fitting, two former New York City police officers, one of which part of our 9th precinct family, and close friends to Dave as well.  Hollywood could not have written a better ending.  Let us never forget their courage under fire.

Let us never forget that we risk our lives every day.  Let us continue to push forward, however.  Dave sacrificed his life, and for everyone that ever knew Dave, we owe that to him.  He welcomed us all with open arms.  Never have I ever heard one negative comment about him (except how bloated he continued to get, probably from eating gallons of protein powder before his daily workout).

Therefore, let us NEVER forget Dave.  Let us protect one another, let us lean on one another, and let us be there for each other, as Dave was there for us, and as Dave protected Mike during the last second of his life.

For one more day, I want you to call me “the skinniest-fat guy you’ve ever met.”  For one more day, I want you to cheers one more shot of Fireball.  For one more day, I want one more carpool, one more workout session (or lack of because of a pit-stop to Whataburger).  Just one more day, a day I’ll never have, but days prior I can look back on and cherish.  Because, let’s face it, “broski”:  For the rest of my life, however long it should be, that’s how I’ll remember you.  I love you and that goofy smile.  Be my shield and my courage in the face of danger.  I’ll never forget you.

Twenty-one years ago, Bruce Springsteen wrote a song entitled “Blood Brothers,” and in closing, I’d like to quote his final lines:

“Now I don’t know how I feel.  I don’t know how I feel tonight, if I’ve fallen beneath the wheel, if I’ve lost or I’ve gained sight.
I don’t even know why, I don’t know why I made this call, or if any of this matters anymore after all.
But the stars are burning bright, like some mystery uncovered.
And I’ll keep moving through the dark, with you in my heart,
My blood brother. “

 

 

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