It was 10 years ago this weekend that State Trooper Jeffry Edelson, a Brookville native, crashed his cruiser into a tree while chasing a speeding motorist on a Sunday afternoon in a small town in the Catskill Mountains.
His friends, family and colleagues will gather at 11 a.m. Saturday in Liberty, N.Y., to dedicate a portion of Route 55, just a mile from the Liberty Barracks where he worked, in his memory.
"I think the most important thing to remember about his life was that he absolutely loved his job," his father, Steven Edelson, 72, said in an interview this week. "As far back as I can remember, all he ever wanted was to be a police officer. He did his first report in the sixth grade on gun control."
Edelson, 34, was a graduate of Hewlett High School and attended Quinnipiac University and the University of Arizona before going to work in his father's plumbing supply business in Manhattan. He was the manager of one of his father's three stores when he was notified by the State Police in 1997 that he would be in the next class of recruits they were hiring.
No family member -- his father, mother Ellen and sister Lynda -- could point to a single source for Jeffry's enthusiasm for police work. But they said he spent a lot of time as a youngster in one of his father's stores near the 10th Precinct in Manhattan.
Local police officers often shopped at the store and the family attended community events at the precinct station house. One of pictures in the family's photo album shows a grown-up Edelson smiling in his trooper uniform standing next to a grim-looking police officer dressed as Santa Claus at the precinct's Christmas party in 1998.
He graduated from the training academy on April 27, 1998. He worked briefly in Troop L on Long Island and later in Troop F upstate. He returned to Long Island for several months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, working at Ground Zero and riding the LIRR in uniform as part of a security detail. He was on the promotion list for sergeant at the time of his death, and was promoted posthumously.
Edelson was responding to a complaint of criminal mischief on Nov. 23, 2003, when a speeding pickup passed him going in the opposite direction on Route 55. He made a U-turn and gave pursuit, but his 2000 Ford Crown Victoria skidded into a roadside tree.
"He was a unique character, a wonderful person, and he had a unique enthusiasm for the job," Maj. Patrick Regan, his commanding officer, said in an interview this week.
Edelson "had a knack for being able to procure things" through the bureaucracy, Regan said, and he also excelled at his side job of keeping the barracks supplied with tires, uniforms and other items.
"He was devoted to his family, his father, mother and sister," Regan said. "He was also devoted to being a trooper, and being a better trooper. His fascination for the job never ceased. He kept trying to figure out a better way of doing things."