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