Volume 76, Number 43 | March 21 - 27, 2007


Our auxiliary officers need more protection

Shocking death and violence came suddenly to Greenwich Village last Wednesday night, cutting short three innocent young lives.

Many more lives could have been lost, if not for the actions of two courageous Sixth Precinct auxiliary officers, Nicholas Pekearo and Yevgeniy “Eugene” Marshalik. The volunteer officers confronted crazed gunman David Garvin after he had just murdered Alfredo Morales, the bartender at DeMarco’s on Houston St. They compelled Garvin to drop his backpack, containing another gun and 100 bullets. Clearly, Garvin was ready to perpetrate a massacre.

Auxiliaries are trained to be the Police Department’s “eyes and ears.” They carry police radios, nightsticks and handcuffs. Pekearo and Marshalik, however, went beyond the call of duty, following the fleeing armed killer up Sullivan St. Tragically, as Police Commissioner Kelly said, they paid the “ultimate sacrifice,” as Garvin, a former Marine, hunted them down and killed them, before being fatally shot himself by police officers.

Pekearo, 28, and Marshalik, 19, are heroes. On that fateful night they saved the lives of others. One a Village native, the other a New York University sophomore, they represented the very best in community service. They are emblematic of those residents and university students who selflessly give of themselves to better our community. They made a difference, and we will never forget.

As for Morales, he, too, was an integral part of the community. Laboring day in and day out at the restaurant, he embodied the work ethic immigrants bring.

And yet, last Wednesday night’s horrific events raise serious issues — about handguns and auxiliaries. As the mayor said after Garvin’s rampage, illegal guns are the problem. Garvin’s guns apparently weren’t legally registered here. The mayor’s doing a great job on gun control, and must keep it up.

In the aftermath of last Wednesday, there’s a new focus on whether auxiliaries are adequately trained and equipped. The program grew out of wartime civil defense. Seven auxiliaries have now been killed on duty in New York City.

If these volunteers are going to be in uniform on the streets, then the city must provide bulletproof vests. But the $250 uniform stipend the city provides won’t buy a $500 bulletproof vest, much less the whole uniform.

Attending Pekearo’s funeral on Saturday, three Toronto auxiliary officers said their bulletproof vests and uniforms are all paid for by their government, as did a Washington, D.C., auxiliary officer. D.C. auxiliaries even carry guns — but that’s another issue. Leonard Lyn, Toronto’s acting auxiliary inspector, called it a “disgrace” that New York City auxiliaries lack bulletproof vests. “Body armor is mandatory [in Toronto],” he said.

Pekearo was, in fact, wearing a vest, but Garvin’s onslaught at close range was too deadly.

The police are reassessing the auxiliary program. Clearly, something must change. Pekearo and Marshalik’s heroic actions show how important auxiliaries are to our safety — but their deaths also show how truly at risk auxiliaries are.

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