Manhattan, NY – A family’s request to co-name a local street to honor the first New York Police Department (NYPD) transit officer killed in the war in Iraq has been denied by Manhattan’s Community Board 1.
NYPD Transit Officer James McNaughton, an Army Reserve staff sergeant, was guarding prisoners at Camp Victory outside Baghdad on Aug. 2, 2005, when he was fatally shot by a sniper, the Associated Press reported.
Officer McNaughton, 27, had voluntarily assigned himself to guard duty because the two other military police officers who could have taken the post had children at home, according to the Tribeca Tribune.
“He would take the bullet for you. He would literally stand in front of you and take that bullet,” NYPD Sergeant Berford Rivera told the Associated Press at the time.
“In the Transit bureau he was a front-line protector of this city, patrolling stations alone, after midnight,” then-NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said. “He volunteered for the worst assignments, at the worst times.”
In honor of his service and sacrifice, Officer McNaughton’s family and fellow officers asked the community board to co-name a section of West Broadway between Canal Street and Lispenard Street as “James McNaughton Way,” the New York Post reported.
NYPD Officer Brian Kenny, who had worked alongside Officer McNaughton, said that he and his partner, Officer Paul Caracci, had also been granted approval by local businesses, and submitted a petition with 227 NYPD signatures in support of the request.
“Jimmy’s a hero. He’s our hero,” Officer Kenny said. “And generations of future police officers who entered the subway to go to work at Transit District 2 would know that his fellow officers did not forget him.”
Although the proposal was unanimously passed in committee, Community Board 1 shut the measure down with a vote of 21 to 12.
“It was a slap in the face,” Officer McNaughton’s stepmother, retired NYPD Transit Officer Michelle McNaughton, told the New York Post.
“All it is is politics,” his father, retired NYPD Transit Officer Bill McNaughton railed. “Tell us the real reason. What is the reason Tribeca can’t do it, but all the other boroughs can do it?”
Community Board 1 Transportation Committee Co-Chair Reggie Tomas said that some who opposed the measure argued that the pole was already to cluttered with signs, the Tribeca Tribune reported.
Others on the board suggested that Officer McNaughton be honored with a plaque or a tree instead.
“It is an unfortunate situation that a handful of people are against it,” NYPD Transit District 2 Community Affairs Officer Detective James Rudolph told the paper. “It’s heart wrenching.”
Officer McNaughton joined the NYPD in July of 2001 – just two months before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Associated Press reported.
He was engaged to NYPD Officer Liliana Parades at the time of his death.
“He was a military person,” Officer Kenny said. “If your assignment that night was to work with Jimmy, you couldn’t get a much better assignment. You knew you were going to have fun and you knew the job was going to get done right.”
“Most people don’t know what the word ‘samurai’ means,” Officer McNaughton’s father told the Associated press shortly after his son’s death. “It means ‘to serve.’ He’s been serving his whole life. He’s been carrying a gun since he was 18.”