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Kin of fallen cops to get Purple Heart medals

Left, Highway Patrolman Michael J. Califano died Feb.

Left, Highway Patrolman Michael J. Califano died Feb. 5, 2011 after a traffic stop on the Long Island Expressway in which a trucker who is accused of dozing off slammed into the officer's stopped patrol car. Califano's death marked the first line-of-duty police death in the department since 1993. Pictured on the right, Officer Geoffrey J. Breitkopf, 40, a husband, father of two and police officer for 12 years, was mistakenly shot dead March 12, 2011 by a Metropolitan Transportation Authority police officer in Massapequa Park after responding in plain clothes to a scene where a knife-wielding man was shot and killed by other officers. Photo Credit: Handouts

Purple Heart medals will be awarded posthumously Thursday by the Nassau Police Department to the families of Michael J. Califano and Geoffrey J. Breitkopf, officers who died in the line of duty last year.

Califano, a highway patrolman, had pulled over a vehicle Feb. 4, 2011, on the Long Island Expressway in Old Westbury when a dozing driver of a flatbed truck hit his cruiser.

Califano, a Wantagh resident, was 44.

Breitkopf was fatally shot March 12, 2011, after being mistaken for an armed suspect by an Metropolitan Transportation Authority police officer in Massapequa Park. Breitkopf, 40, of Selden, was a member of the force's Bureau of Special Operations and was shot after a knife-wielding man had been killed at the scene by Nassau police.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Dale will host the 139th Departmental Awards Ceremony at the Kenneth Riland Theatre at the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury.

At the event, which starts at 7 p.m., other honors will be given out, including medals for valor and distinguished service and a lifesaving award.

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