Northshore Harbormasters Association News

Police patrol boat will carry fallen officer’s name

This Tuesday will mark 16 years since Patrolman Thomas J. Giunta was shot and killed in the line of duty during a seemingly innocuous assignment for the annual Holy Ghost Festival.

That morning will also be the day the city and police department ceremoniously honor the former motorcycle cop with a law enforcement memorial at sea.

The new 25-foot Fall River police patrol boat, with the black, gold and red markings of all department cruisers, will bear from that day forward the inscription of “Ptl. Thomas J. Giunta” on its port and starboard sides.

The harbormaster’s boat will also contain Giunta’s “Badge 20” as its registration, and badge numbers of the three officers killed in the line of duty in modern times:
Badge 88, Officer Richard G. Magan, killed Aug. 11, 2000; Badge 167, Officer John W. Ruggiero, killed July 23, 1973, and Giunta’s 20, killed Aug. 24, 1994.

Roland Proulx, the harbormaster, is a retired police officer and original member, with Giunta, of the department’s motor vehicle enforcement unit on motorcycle that was established in 1988.

Proulx told Chief Daniel Racine the police practice in New York to place the names of officers killed in the line of duty on their patrol boats, and asked if this could be done for his former partner.

“There’s never been an individual memorial for Tommy,” Proulx said.

“I think naming this boat after Officer Giunta is significant because he rode with Roland Proulx, the harbormaster. It’s a nice tribute,” Racine said.

Mayor Will Flanagan, who joined the two law enforcement officials at Borden Light Marina, where owners provide slips without charge for the patrol boat, said the memorial is meaningful to him.

“I knew Officer Giunta personally,” he said. “We as a city have an opportunity to memorialize him and his family. His name and memory live on through the harbormaster and this boat.”

Flanagan, the son of a police officer, said that by Giunta’s son, Tim, serving as a patrolman on the department, the family’s role in law enforcement continues.
“He was a good guy. I miss him,” Proulx said.

He recalled how his partner, who served for 21 years on the department, bought his own motorcycle to aggressively try to join what would become a new patrol unit. “If he was alive, he’d be on the boat,” Proulx said.

Racine agreed. “Tom had panache and flair. I know he’d be on the boat.”

He died during a fierce struggle while passing out free festival parking permits at a Middle Street apartment. He was fatally shot three times with the .38-caliber revolver the unexpectedly aggressive man pulled from the officer. It caused the department to change both its holster and service weapon, Racine said.

The department’s ceremony will begin Tuesday at 10 a.m. at police headquarters with the raising of an American flag that flew over the Capitol in Washington, D.C., in tribute to the fallen officers and their families.

Immediately following about 11, the new patrol boat will be dedicated to Giunta.

Councilor Ray Mitchell obtained the flag and with Councilor Eric Poulin had the boat dedication passed.

The families of Giunta, Magan and Ruggiero have been invited to attend and be honored for the ultimate sacrifice their loved ones gave.

At the marina and looking over the 25-foot Parker boat powered by twin 200-horse Yamaha outboard motors, Racine emphasized the public safety it can provide at sea.

The nearly $150,000 boat contains $25,000 of communications equipment, including FLIR thermal vision camera Proulx said would enable him and Assistant Harbormaster Paul Borges to see in the dark and fog.

“I really see this as saving lives. This is what we need when people are in distress,” Racine said.

Proulx said they responded to a call “in 12 minutes” to what became a fatal accident near Point Gloria recently.

Since acquiring the boat to replace a smaller 10-year-old boat on May 30, they performed a pair of rescues in July, one with two older men on a sailboat they could not right, the other with six people on a 20-foot power boat taking in water.

Their ocean patrol area ranges from Tiverton to Freetown, with a concentration around the bridges and four local marinas.

The 25-foot patrol boat was obtained through a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant that New Bedford originally applied for in 2007, Proulx said. The $146,913 price tag was the lower of two bids received and required a 25 percent match. That was provided by the Massachusetts Seaport Advisory Council.

E-mail Michael Holtzman at mholtzman@heraldnews.com.

Posted on October 4th, 2010 by Administrator in North Shore