BUFFALO, NY - Police Officer Patricia Parete, who died in February 2013as a result of wounds she received more than six years before, was memorialized Friday with a placement of a sign in her honor on the city's lower west side.
The sign was erected at the corner of Chippewa Street and Whitney Place, where Parete and fellow officer Carl Andolina were both shot while on duty in December 2006, as they chased a suspect fleeing from the scene of a fight, which had broken out at a nearby store.
"We are gathered here today to honor a true hero and one of Buffalo's finest …because Patty will not be forgotten because her deeds will not be allowed to fade from memory," said Michael Ciulla, a Rochester police officer who is a member a police benevolent group called the Badge of Honor Association.
Founded by Buffalo native Justin Collins, who is a Rochester police Sergeant, the group has embarked on an ambitious effort to honor fallen officers with signs like the one placed in honor of Parete.
"Unfortunately throughout the years of our existance and organization we've had to put up quite a few signs," said Collins. "Over the next two months we're putting up 75 signs to fallen officers across western and central New York."
"The badge of Honor Association is critically important because today is an opportunity to remember Officer Parete, who made the ultimate sacrifice, but it is also an opportunity to thank all those in law enforcement," said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda concurred, by stating, "Every day they put their lives on the line for this community. They go out never knowing if they're going to return home to their loved ones."
Speaking on behalf of the Parete family, Buffalo Police Officer Danny Meegan said, "it's my hope that when people see this sign that they not only think of Patty, but all the first responders in our community and across the country."
"I just think it's important to remember her sacrifice," said Jill Simko, who became close friends with Parete after the shooting, which left Parete paralyzed from the neck down for the last six years of her life.
"She had a very difficult time…it was very hard for her," said Simko, who also told WGRZ-TV that Parete was aware of the community's continued support of her during those times, and was somewhat humbled by it.
Community members contributed more than $500,000 for Parete's care, and the construction of a new house to make it easier for her to get around in her wheelchair.
"She was very surprised by all the attention that she got after all of this, and to be honest with you, if she saw this today, she would think it was kind of silly giving her so much attention…but she shouldn't be forgotten," Simko said.
"We are here because Patty was a hero," said Ciulla. "And we honor our heroes."
Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 on Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Dooley O'Rourke.