Fallen officer recalled as loving his job
Nassau Police Officer Joseph Olivieri was the consummate cop -- one who was remembered Thursday as loving his job, doing it well and accepting the dangers.
In March 2003, he rushed into a burning Massapequa home in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue a woman and her grandson trapped inside.
Three years earlier, he almost died patrolling slick streets in the same community when his cruiser overturned and pinned him under it, giving him a concussion and nearly crushing his arm.
For his street smarts -- displayed in February 2002 when he spotted a stolen vehicle in Massapequa and helped arrest its driver -- he was named the Seventh Precinct's Cop of the Month.
No one was surprised.
"He was a cop's cop, a guy who was out there, always patrolling, very active taking DWIs off the streets, very active, dedicated police officer," said Nassau Police Benevolent Association president James Carver.
Olivieri, 43, of Middle Island, a five-year NYPD officer on the Nassau force since December 1998, was struck and killed by a sport utility vehicle on the LIE in North Hills Thursday while assisting a driver in an accident, police said.
He was the third county officer from the same police academy class to die in the line of duty.
Police Officers Michael Califano and Geoffrey Breitkopf were also appointed to the department on Dec. 3, 1998. Califano was killed Feb. 5, 2011, when his patrol car was struck from behind after he had stopped a vehicle on the LIE near Exit 39, in Old Westbury.
Breitkopf died March 12 last year, a victim of friendly fire as he responded to a Massapequa Park home where a knife-wielding man had been killed in a standoff with police officers.
Thursday, County Executive Edward Mangano and District Attorney Kathleen Rice praised Olivieri for his service. Mangano called him an "exemplary police officer."
Olivieri's family in Holbrook, meanwhile, mourned quietly as they made funeral plans, with a team of officers keeping watch outside his home.
His relatives declined to comment, but a family friend said they were stunned by his death. "It's been a hard day but I tell you, everyone is stepping up to the plate," said Mary Ciervo, 52.
She said that two Nassau Highway Patrol police officers arrived at Olivieri's former wife's home about 8 a.m. to notify them.
Dina became particularly upset, she said, when they saw a black Toyota Camry that was "totally destroyed."
Olivieri's daughter and son, Amanda, 21, and Daniel, 18, were taken by helicopter from Long Island MacArthur Airport to the hospital, she said.
Ciervo described Olivieri as a hardworking, quiet man who loved being a police officer.
"He was well-liked," she said, adding that Olivieri was divorced but still good friends with his ex-wife. "He was very private and he was not a talkative guy but he loved police work and he loved music."
Ciervo said Olivieri's children are in shock: "They are being pretty stoic."
With Gary Dymski, Sarah Crichton and William Murphy