When Haydn Chacana walked into police headquarters Friday to be promoted to detective specialist, the police officer was surprised by the big shout out he got from none other than NYPD Commissioner William Bratton.
Bratton singled out Chacana, 39, who lives in Commack, for the strength and dedication he has poured over the past four years battling the debilitating disease Lupus and holding down his job in the crime scene unit. When he had to go for treatments or see doctors Chacana did it on his own time, said Bratton.
"His constant professionalism, his constant commitment, relentlessly positive attitude, and devotion to the department and colleagues in the department, even in the face of his grave illness, have been an inspiration to his fellow officers . . . those who know him should feel privileged to know him," said Bratton to a packed auditorium.
"Words can't describe it. I was in shock," Chacana later about his boss's comments.
Accompanied by his wife Michelle and the couple's three daughters -- Arianna, 11, Avery, 8, and Alina,5 -- Chacana told reporters how the disease nearly killed him twice in recent years. Chacana was first stricken with Lupus, an autoimmune ailment in which the body's own defenses turns on joints and vital organs such as the heart, in 2010.
"I almost passed away twice from sepsis," remembered Chacana, a 14 year NYPD veteran who is the first in his family to be a cop. The drugs used in treatments sometimes suppressed his immune system so that he became prone to infections, he said.
Friday's promotion was a bitter sweet moment for the young officer since his condition is forcing him to retire in about two weeks. It is the prudent thing to do, Chacana explained.
"I would love to stay, but the truth is on the street if something were to happened ,I can't do what I am supposed to do to help another cop," Chacana said.
After leaving the NYPD, Chacana said he hopes to spend more time on his photography hobby. But his days as a cop won't be far from his mind.
"My heart is always here," he said with a smile.
Among the 41 other officers promoted to the rank of detective was another Long Islander, Michael J. Disanto, who lives in Suffolk County. Disanto is the nephew of legendary retired detective Joseph Coffey, who in the 1980s became famous for locking up a number of mob bosses, including the late Paul Castellano and members of the Irish gang "The Westies."