Madam Speaker, the NYPD is one of the most recognizable police departments not only in the United States, but the world.
Nearly 38,000 strong, these brave men and women protect and serve the greater New York metropolitan area and its citizens. Being a peace officer in New York City is a dangerous job. It has always been a dangerous job, and New York peace officers risk their lives daily.
The starting salary for a peace officer in New York City is $25,000, and once they graduate from the academy, it is only $32,000. Almost poverty wages in one of the most expensive cities in the country to live in.
Yet, each year's recruiting classes, young men and women choose to wear the blue uniform and badge of NYPD. They choose to serve New York City and its citizens with honor and bravery.
Madam Speaker, I have had the opportunity as a former judge in Texas to address NYPD peace officers. And after we got through the language barrier, I found them to be dedicated keepers and protectors of the law.
Officer Patrick Lynch, Christine Schmidt and Joseph Cho are three of the valiant PD police officers from New York City. Little did they know that in the early morning hours of February 5, just a few days ago, they would make and become a cut above the rest of us.
It all started with a guy by the name of Danny Fernandez. He was broke, and he was in debt. So he decided how he was going to get some money to pay his debt and pay off other expenses. He wanted to commit many serious felony crimes ranging from robbery to attempted murder.
So to begin his crime spree, he needed a weapon to commit these robberies. So he decided to attack an NYPD officer to get a firearm. His choice was 30-year-old Officer Joseph Cho, a 2-month rookie assigned to late-night foot patrol on the tough New York streets.
That night, Officer Cho unknowingly became Fernandez's target. Fernandez attacked him and smashed Cho twice over the head with a baseball bat.
Meanwhile, Officer Patrick Lynch, another rookie, who was also out of the academy just 2 months and assigned to the latenight foot patrol, was on patrol. Around 1:00 a.m., Officer Lynch came face-to-face with the menacing Fernandez, armed with a baseball bat, standing over Officer Cho ready to strike him a third time, even though Officer Cho was on the ground.
So seeing Officer Cho on the ground, unconscious, with the bat-wielding outlaw standing over him, Officer Lynch charged after the suspect, and then he radioed for backup. Responding to his calls for assistance was Officer Christine Smith, a 26-year-old, yes, that is right, rookie within NYPD.
She, like Officers Cho and Lynch, had only been out of the academy for 2 months, and she was on foot patrol just a few blocks away. She had given up a career in teaching to become a peace officer.
Together, this dynamic duo quickly caught the outlaw and held him and charged him with serious crimes.
Their bravery and heroism has earned these three rookies commendations from NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. It has also earned them the respect of their fellow officers and the gratitude of the entire city.
Officer Cho received numerous skull fractures and required 20 stitches, but eventually he will recover. The criminal will be facing a jury in New York City for his crimes against New York City's finest, the NYPD.
Lawmen and women like Officers Lynch, Smith and Cho are a rare breed, but they are the Americans who wear the badge to protect and to serve. So, today, we thank rookies Lynch, Smith and Cho and the thousands other peace officers in this country for their daily valor, courage and sense of duty to the people. These individuals fight the local thugs, child molesters, robbers, killers and street terrorists. They do our work for us. They are what stands between us, the law and the lawless, and we thank them for that.
And that's just the way it is.