Far Rockaway, NY - Honoring an NYPD Hero
Far Rockaway, NY - This past Sunday, the Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Peninsula honored Sgt. Tim Smith of the 101st Precinct at its annual legislative breakfast. Sgt. Smith was injured in the line of duty while protecting the citizens of Far Rockaway. He sustained injuries to the eye and brain in a horrific stabbing. The event was largely overlooked by the news media, since it happened on January 15, the same day that the US Airways airplane landed safely in the Hudson River.
Hatzalah member Alex Wertzberger of KosherWorld went with Officer Smith to the Jamaica Hospital Trauma Center, then on to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. Mr. Wertzberger had arranged for the JCCRP to honor this fallen officer. Deputy Inspector Brian McMahon proudly exclaimed, “Officer Smith is one of the finest sergeants we have ever had. He knew his job. He knew to protect the people. We are very proud of him and are appreciative that the JCCRP has honored him today.”
Rabbi Yair Hoffman: Thank you for sitting down with us. How long have you been with the 101st Precinct in Far Rockaway?
Officer Tim Smith: I’ve been here for about one year before I was injured. I have been a police officer for 13 years.
YH: Where were you prior to the 101st?
TS: I was at the 113th Precinct in South Jamaica.
YH: What shift did you generally have?
TS: I had the 4–to–12 shift [4:00 p.m. to midnight]. I would patrol the streets here in Far Rockaway. I would see the kids dismissed from the yeshivas. During the year that I was here, we had no incidents with kids being bothered after school. It was calm and peaceful.
YH: How did you get to know Alex?
TS: Alex? Everyone knows Alex.
YH: How did you get injured?
TS: I answered a call about an emotionally disturbed person. When we got there, he ran into a back room. I knocked on the door. He came out and stabbed me in the eye. I have very little recollection of what else happened.
YH: I imagine it was very depressing, losing your eye.
TS: I wasn’t happy.
YH: Are you married? Do you have kids?
TS: I am married. No kids. We do have a couple of dogs.
YH: Well, we just want to thank you for what you and your fellow officers do. The Talmud says that were it not for law and order, people would swallow each other alive.
TS: I think the Talmud is absolutely right!
The 5TJT also interviewed Sgt. Smith’s father, Frank Smith, to learn more about Sgt. Smith’s situation.
Rabbi Yair Hoffman: How old is your son?
Frank Smith: 36 years old.
YH: How is your son doing now, with the eye and brain injury and all?
FS: Well, he watches Jeopardy at night and answers most of the questions. He’s got problems with his knee and in his leg, but they can’t find anything wrong with that . . . Everything the surgeons told us that night came true, and the surgeons were fantastic.
YH: Where did you grow up?
FS: I grew up in Elmont, right behind Beth David Cemetery. I knew Beth David like the back of my hand.
YH: I imagine it was pretty traumatic to hear what happened to your son.
FS: Yes, it was. I was with him for five months. First he was in Jamaica Hospital, then in Bellevue. But I tell you, we could not have gotten through it without the constant help of the New York City Police Department. They constantly visited. Helped and everything. Alex was also there from the beginning. Commissioner Kelly visited him every three days and visited him the most . . . Mayor Bloomberg also visited . . .
Now he is at rehab. He wants to be back on the job. For a while he could not talk. I was reading newspapers for him . . . January 15–May 15. He was here in this synagogue [Kneseth Israel, the White Shul, where the breakfast was held] for a barbecue in the summer.
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