The most senior member of the NYPD retired Thursday after being on the job for 42 years.
Deputy Chief Joseph Gallucci, Executive Officer of the Counterterrorism Bureau, signed off for the last time while at the 911 Memorial and Museum, a sacred location that has left an indelible impression on him.
Chief Gallucci stood at the south reflection memorial pool and watched the running water shimmer in the afternoon light. Despite the picturesque scene and surrounding beauty, Gallucci had been at that exact spot over two decades prior when the backdrop was the anthesis of serene. On that occasion, he was digging through the rubble left in the wake of the most devastating terrorist attack in American history.
In 2001, Chief Gallucci was a member of the aviation division and was called into action on that fateful September day. He had been returning to base at Floyd Bennett Field when the tower was hit and was told to fly to the scene.
“It is a site that really brings back some of the worst memories of my life, literally watching people lose their lives. From the helicopter we assessed the damage and tried to see what we were going to do at that point,” Gallucci recalled. “After the attack itself, I was on the ground, you know, working and trying to do my job.”
Gallucci not only spent September 11th and the preceding days at Ground Zero, he also has lived with the loss of friends, not only from that morning but also those who have perished due to 911 related illnesses in the years since.
“This place has a very special meaning to me. I knew some of the officers who lost their lives on that day, and, you know, many more who have lost their lives post 911 as a result of illnesses that they got from 911,” Gallucci said looking down at the names of those who have died. “That day is really etched inside of me, and, it has a very, very special meaning. And it’s just a day that none of us will ever forget.”
The Counterterrorism Bureau was formed following 911 to prevent future terrorist attacks. Gallucci spent the last 15 years of his career developing the unit, something he told amNewYork Metro that he is both extremely proud and grateful to have been a part of.
Gallucci has lived a lifetime behind the badge through which he said he learned about life and about himself. He encourages officers to be kind and also reminds them that although there are some bad people on the streets there are many more good individuals out there.
With this part of his life coming to a close, Gallucci said he will be hitting the reset button and even joked that “I need to decide what to do when I grow up.”