American Legion holds annual Law and Order Dinner
ABOVE: Police officers honored are (from left) Jose Estrella, John Pizzuto, Joseph White and Christopher Germano. BELOW: Student honorees from left: Lauren Cottral, Victoria Arthus and Nicholas Nilson.


American Legion holds annual Law and Order Dinner


ISLIP—American Legion Rusy-Bohm Post 411 held its annual Law and Order Dinner on Sunday, Nov. 4 at their headquarters on Nassau Avenue.

Five police officers from Suffolk County’s Third Precinct were honored for rescuing two occupants from a burning vehicle earlier this year. On Feb. 15, the officers responded to a crash in West Islip, where a 2001 Ford Taurus had struck a brick wall outside a residence on Edmore Lane. 

The driver, a 22-year-old man from Brightwaters, was already outside the vehicle when the police arrived. But his two passengers were still inside the vehicle, which after the crash, caught fire. 

Officer Joseph White, along with a nearby resident, pulled one of the passengers from the front seat of the vehicle. The second passenger, in the back seat, proved to be more difficult when the rear doors wouldn’t open from the damage of the crash. 

Officer Jose Estrella assisted White in extracting the second victim while officers Christopher Germano and John Pizzuto kept the flames at bay with a fire extinguisher. 

Both passengers were ultimately transported to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, where they were admitted in critical but stable condition. The driver was also brought to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries and arrested for driving while intoxicated. 

Officers White, Estrella, Pizzuto and Germano were present for the ceremony, while another officer, Christopher Grenia, was honored for his involvement in the rescue but was unable to attend.

“It’s been great serving the community,” White said, thinking back on his last 25 years on the force. 

The post’s vice commander, James Duffy, says the annual dinner dates back to the 1920s. “It’s an institution around here,” Duffy said, adding that there is a natural kinship between the military and the police.  

In addition to the police honorees, six students from Islip High School were also honored for their involvement in the Boys and Girls State summer leadership program, sponsored by the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary for high school juniors. 

After the ceremony, one of the students, Lauren Cottral, said she had experiences with Girls State that she will never forget, adding that it gave her insights into politics and the U.S. military that she would never have learned in high school. 

In addition, Cottral said she learned how to campaign and draft bills with the program. “I met girls from around the state with different perspectives and ideas that I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise,” she added. 

After graduation, Cottral plans on studying natural sciences in college. But, due to her experience with Girls State, she says she wants to become a more active citizen. She plans on using absentee ballots while she is away at college and become more aware of her community and its needs. 

Honorees Victoria Arthus and Nicholas Nilsen were present for the ceremony as well. Christopher Giuliani, James Rindos and Tiana Seide also received awards, but were unable to attend the event. 

Islip Town Clerk Olga Murray said the student honorees are all within the top one-third in their class, which includes 225 students. She noted that the opportunities these students received would benefit them in the future. “It looks great on a resume,” Murray said, regarding the designation. 

Murray congratulated the students for their achievement and offered a bit of advice. “Make the best of what you learned and pay it forward,” she added.

In addition to Murray, Islip Town Councilman Jim O’Connor also attended the ceremony, along with New York State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore), Suffolk County Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-East Islip) and Congressman Peter King