Bay Ridge

Slain cop honored with Bay Ridge street-naming ceremony

October 24, 2017 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
City Councilmember Vincent Gentile holds the new street sign with members of David Guttenberg’s family. Eagle photos by John Alexander
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Beloved neighborhood patrolman David Guttenberg received a long-overdue recognition on Oct. 21, as 86th Street and Battery Avenue in Bay Ridge was co-named Patrolman David Guttenberg Way. A sea of NYPD blue stretched as far as the eye could see, all of whom came to pay homage to a fallen comrade who was remembered for his good deeds.

David Guttenberg, an 18-year veteran of the Police Department, was on routine patrol on Dec. 28, 1978 when he walked into an auto shop on 86th Street to try to find the owner of a double-parked car. He did not know that the store was being robbed by two men at gunpoint at that moment. Guttenberg was shot to death in the altercation.

City Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who introduced the legislation for the street naming, welcomed elected officials, family, friends and NYPD members. The invocation was delivered by NYPD Chief Chaplain Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass. Kass was so dedicated to the Guttenberg family that he wanted to be at the ceremony despite the fact that his wife had passed away the night before. Kass has served, and continues to serve, the NYPD for more than 50 years and was the rabbi who officiated at Guttenberg’s funeral in 1978.

Gentile thanked everyone for coming to “right a wrong that has gone on for too long.” “And by correcting that wrong,” he continued, “we acknowledge the service and the bravery of 68th Precinct Patrolman David Guttenberg.”

Gentile said Guttenberg “paid the ultimate price doing simply what he thought was a good deed, to avoid giving a parking summons to someone during Christmas week.”

Gentile thanked Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill for supporting the effort to honor Guttenberg, along with members of the 68th Precinct, both active and retired, led by Commanding Officer Captain Joseph Hayward.

Gentile introduced 68th Precinct Auxiliary Police Sgt. Christian Durante as the driving force behind having the street named in Guttenberg’s honor. He said, “We simply would not be here today if it wasn’t for Sgt. Durante’s persistence and can-do attitude.” He thanked Durante for his time and efforts researching Guttenberg, reaching out to his family and advocating for a street naming in his honor.

Durante called Guttenberg a friend to all who knew him and someone who, in 49 years, accomplished so much. He reminded everyone that Guttenberg took pride in his patrol post, which was the 86th Street shopping district. “Every store owner knew his name,” said Durante. “He was the essence of community policing, the beat cop, the father figure to those who needed one.”

State Sen. Marty Golden called Guttenberg a great hero and said the honor was “a long time coming, but it’s here.” Golden thanked Gentile and Durante for helping get the street named in Guttenberg’s honor and Col. Peter Sicoli, commander of the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton and the servicemen present.

Golden recalled that he was a police officer himself when Guttenberg was shot and killed. “David embodies what it means to be a police officer and to serve this great city,” said Golden. He also pointed out that this was the very street where Guttenberg lost his life in 1978.

NYPD Assistant Chief Steven Powers, commanding officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, thanked the police officers and members of Guttenberg’s family who have constantly showed up at court appearances to keep the two shooters behind bars.

Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann was also instrumental in helping pass the legislation for the street naming when Durante brought the request to her attention. Beckmann recalled how when Durante came into her office to ask for a street-naming application, she asked him to provide her with more information about Guttenberg to present to the committee.

“He returned with a binder bigger than anyone had ever seen before,” said Beckmann. “It was a tremendous amount of work and dedication and research.”

Gentile introduced Guttenberg’s family, his son Mark Guttenberg and his daughters Helaine Guttenberg-Ginsberg, Ilene Guttenberg Triestman and Amy Guttenberg-Windsor and their spouses and children. Guttenberg-Windsor spoke on behalf of her siblings saying they were “humbled and proud of the honor bestowed upon their father.

“And our hearts are full,” she said, “knowing that he has not been forgotten 39 years after his death.”

 


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