As the Suffolk County Police Department got ready to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, in 2010, the dedication and sacrifice of its members was memorialized in a painting entitled Heroes of the Suffolk County Police Department. The idea for the painting came from P.O. James “Jamie” Scandariato, of Marine Bureau, and was painted by his uncle, artist Angelo Marino.
Around Thanksgiving 2007, the idea of a memorial painting was first discussed with the Suffolk County Police Memorial Fund board of directors. Jamie has been a Suffolk Police Officer for thirteen years, and had three years of prior experience with NYPD. Jamie approached his uncle with the idea of creating a painting and donating it to the Memorial Fund.
The project took almost one full year and the dedication of many people to complete. Members of the Identification Section, PBA and Memorial Fund helped brainstorm ideas for inclusion in the painting.
Much like the Americana art of Norman Rockwell, this painting tells a story. Every image in the painting has a purpose and meaning. It is a tribute to Suffolk County’s finest, highlighting specialized units, while honoring those officers who died in the line of duty. Angelo Marino explains, “Officers put their own safety at risk for the service of others. They respond to all different calls and sometimes sacrifice their own lives doing it.”
At the center of the painting is the police officer holding the hands of a small boy and girl. He is standing in front of the memorial that represents the twenty-two officers who have died in the line of duty over the last fifty years. This is the central theme of the painting, ensuring that “we never forget”.
Several of the other images are those we see annually at the police memorial service, held every May. The image of the honor guard represents the playing of Taps and the traditional twenty-one gun salute. To the left is the Suffolk County Emerald Society Pipe Band. The helicopters symbolize the customary flyover. The bottom center represents “moving motorcycles”, that seem to follow the viewer from any angle. There is an image of officers conducting a marine rescue, as well as one depicting officers helping a wounded man into the helicopter. The lone patrol car in the painting bears the number “115”. This commemorates the sector car driven by George Frees, who was shot and killed in the line of duty, while responding to a shots fired call. George Frees’ death was the inspiration for the George Frees Memorial Fund, which was later renamed the Suffolk County Police Memorial Fund.
Jamie believes this painting is greater than any one person, and it carries a message of hope and remembrance. “The Department is going through some trying times. We need to remember and honor the service of those who have come before us.”
During Police Week 2009, Craig Vasey, Executive Director of the Suffolk County Police Memorial Fund, dedicated the painting to the families of officers who died in the line of duty. Survivors’ families were each presented with a framed signed lithograph, with the name of their loved one on it. Lithographs are available to those making a $40.00 donation to the Suffolk County Police Memorial Fund. James said the decision to approach the Memorial Fund was easy. “After talking to Craig, I knew we would have the greatest impact by helping families of the fallen officers".
Currently there are plans to have the painting hung in the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Museum, in Washington, D.C., due to open in 2011. James would like to personally thank Craig Vasey and Jeff Frayler, President of the Suffolk County PBA, for their full support in getting the painting hung in Washington.
This memorial lithograph will have a limited production of 1,000 pieces. As part of this fundraising effort, #001 in the series was signed by the artist and raffled off at the 2009 PBA Christmas party. Additional lithographs will be available through the Suffolk County Memorial Fund.