Volume 75, Number 44 | March 22 -28 2006

Officer slain in ’47 honored with street co-naming

By Jefferson Siegel

After his death in the line of duty, Thomas J. Gargan’s crime-fighting career was profiled in Heroic Comics, above. At right, The Villager’s front-page article on Aug. 21, 1947, announcing that the newspaper was starting a fund to help the officer’s family.
Bank St. was filled with police commanders, officers and family members of a fallen Greenwich Village policeman on Tuesday to honor the officer’s memory with a new street co-naming sign.

Proving that Greenwich Village and the Police Department do not forget one of their own, a ceremonial street sign was unveiled in honor of Patrolman Thomas J. Gargan, who was killed in the line of duty 60 years ago. After four years in the Marines, Gargan served 20 years as a patrol officer before he was killed by a burglar at 132 Bank St.

The department’s Emerald Society Pipe & Drum Corps played “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “God Bless America” as family members took their seats. Rows of officers filled Bank St. standing at attention. Chief of Department Joseph J. Esposito and other active and retired members of the department joined officers from the Village’s Sixth Police Precinct and from throughout the city for the moving tribute.

“This is, in many ways, the final chapter of a remarkable story,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told the crowd.

“In a remarkable gesture of generosity and compassion, merchants and residents of Greenwich Village took up a collection,” Kelly said, referring to funds that the community raised for the slain officer’s wife and four children. In response to the tragedy, The Villager organized the fund for Gargan’s family in 1947, raising nearly $4,000, a sizeable amount at that time.

“Thomas Gargan’s wife, Margaret, vowed that her sons would never forget the gratitude that they owed the people of this community,” Kelly added.

Two of Gargan’s sons and two grandsons would carry on his heritage and join the Police Department.

Deputy Inspector Theresa J. Shortell, Sixth Precinct commanding officer, noted that Gargan’s courage lived on in the community.

“It has always been clear that the members of the Sixth Precinct do their jobs, day in and day out, with great pride and professionalism,” Shortell said. “Thomas Gargan’s bravery, on August 17, 1947, shows us why police work is the noblest profession.”

A member of the honor guard called officers to attention and Gargan’s three sons — James, John and William — and grandson Michael, a member of Brooklyn’s Emergency Service Squad 7 in Brooklyn, joined Commissioner Kelly as they took hold of a rope. Then they slowly pulled off a paper cover, unveiling a green street sign reading: “Patrolman Thomas J. Gargan Way.”

Gargan was recognized for bravery six times during his career. “From now on, people walking here need only look up at this sign to see the name Thomas Gargan and be reminded of a true New York City hero,” Kelly told the crowd.

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