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Police and Law Enforcement Home  >  The Column  >  Councilman Calls Injured Hero Cop a Fool

The Column

Police and Law Enforcement News
Thursday, April 3 2014
 9:26 p.m.


In some towns, when a police officer does something heroic he or she gets honored.

In others, they are publicly ridiculed and called a fool.

Rafael Burgos is a twenty-year-veteran police officer.  He works for Franklin Borough, a small town just under five square miles in Sussex County.

On February 25, Officer Burgos was one of several officers who responded to a working structure fire at a pet store. 

Officer Burgos could have waited for the fire department.   But, he didn't.

Seeing that there were helpless pets trapped in their cages inside the store which was filling up with smoke, Officer Burgos entered the building and began rescuing the animals.  He was assisted by several citizens.

Officer Burgos came out with animals, stored them in cars, and then went back in for more.  Eventually, the smoke became too much, and Officer Burgos became ill.  He had to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Ultimately, all of the animals were rescued.

The local newspapers picked up the story and hailed Officer Burgos a hero.  It was one of those great feel-good stories that everyone likes. 

Almost everyone.

Enter the villain: Franklin Councilman David Fanale. 

Shortly after the incident, Mr. Fanale posted the following on his Facebook page:

A police officer who decides to enter a hazardous situation without proper training, without proper equipment, where no human life is at risk, isn’t a hero, he’s a fool.  He deliberately placed himself in a dangerous scenario, unnecessarily placed his well-being at risk, and is NOT deserving of ‘hero’ status, but rather, disciplinary action.

But Mr. Fanale wasn't done.  Below is an excerpt from an article in The Advertiser News:

A worker’s compensation claim was filed by [Officer] Burgos several hours after the injury was sustained to allow him time to recuperate from his injuries — which also drew the ire of Fanale.  “A volunteer would have been treated and released from the Emergency Department and shown up back on the scene, ready to work again,” he wrote.

The council meeting following the fire and subsequent attack by this elected official had a near-capacity crowd.  And all seemed to be there in support of Officer Burgos.  Social media and the comment sections under newspaper articles - usually reserved for trolling cop haters -  came alive with condemnation of Mr. Fanale's remarks.

FOP Lodge #57 also, expectedly, came out in support of Officer Burgos.  Franklin Detective Nevin Mattesich - who presides over the lodge made up of officers from Franklin, Hamburg and Ogdensburg - invited the councilman to privately discuss the situation outside of the media.

From The Advertisers News:

Fanale says he would like to eventually meet with the group, but he said he is not a fool and is “not going to meet with a bunch of union mob thugs without representation.”

At this moment in time, we (the cops, the politicians, the public, etc.) don't agree on much.  But I think it is safe to say that rescuing puppies from a fire is an area where we can find common ground. 

The comments by Councilman David Fanale are truly extraordinary.  So is the fact that instead of quietly handling what most would consider a personnel matter behind closed doors, he chose to malign this officer publicly. 

Such a response demonstrates a complete lack of leadership from this elected official.  And, a complete lack of class.

Nice job to Officer Burgos and all who assisted.

Use the comment box below to share your thoughts or read those of others.












Councilman Calls Injured Hero Cop a Fool





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