A humble space to mark police dailyperils
The apartment building still stands at 65 James Street in the Hollow section of Bridgeport.
It is a squat, nondescript structure covered in pale vinyl siding.
A black iron gate prevents unwarranted entry to the parking area hollowed out under the building.
The parking area is a foreboding space, dark even at noon on a recent day.
Only the silhouettes of two people walking in there were visible.
The building is at the crest of Golden Hill, which slopes down into a neighborhood that is a hodge-podge of triple-deckers, auto yards and small businesses, a basin between slopes, a hollow.
The street sign at the nearby corner of James Street and Washington Avenue has an honorary plaque added to it: Officer Gerald T. DiJoseph Way.
It was in that sub-building parking area that DiJoseph, then an 11-year veteran of the Bridgeport Police Department, a husband and father of three, was shot on Nov. 28, 1980, while in the midst of what started as a routine traffic stop.
He died that day at St. Vincent’s Medical Center.
The driver of a car had run the traffic light at the corner and pulled into that parking area with DiJoseph rolling in behind him. In 1982, a Connecticut grand jury indicted a New York man in connection with the shooting.
A small memoriam ad appeared on the obituary page of the Connecticut Post on Thursday, the anniversary of the day in 1980 that DiJoseph was shot and died, becoming the eighth officer since 1910 who lost his life in the line of duty.
The memoriam was short and poignant. “Dad, we miss you just as much today as the day you were taken from us.
“You are always in our hearts and on our minds. We love you today, tomorrow and always.
“Love, your children & grandchildren, Jerrod, Matthew, Danielle, Matthew, Madison, Savanna & Gracie.”
DiJoseph’s story is a reminder of the perils police officers face every day when they show up for work.
We ask them to make split-second decisions in situations that can literally be life and death. The decisions they make — especially those that involve deadly force — are, rightly, put under the microscope of public opinion and the legal system.
When there’s a crisis in our lives, though, we hope for a speedy police response.
A small plaza is just across the street from the entrance to Bridgeport’s Police headquarters atop Golden Hill, between headquarters and City Hall at 45 Lyon Terrace.
It is dedicated to the memory of the eight men — seven patrol officers, like DiJoseph, and a sergeant — who died in the line of duty.
A plaque, pictured here, memorializes the names.
It’s a humble space, but one worth stopping at for a moment.
Michael J. Daly is a retired editor of the Connecticut Post editorial page.