On October 8, 2009, a wreath-laying ceremony commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the assassination in Sicily of Joseph Petrosino, a New York police lieutenant, was held at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. Participating in the event were Craig W. Floyd, the chairman and chief executive of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial fund and Robert Leonardi, director general for international affairs for the Region of Sicily. Italian Embassy officials, deputy chief of mission Sebastiano Cardi and justice attache Giannicola Sinisi presented the wreath, which was donated by the Region of Sicily. Master Sergeant Antonio Giuliano sang the American and Italian national anthems; the invocation was given by Monsignor Salvatore Crisculo, chaplain of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. Also attending were representatives of the Sons of Italy, the National Italian American Foundation, and the Friends of Charles Bonaparte.
Theodore Roosevelt, in his capacity as N.Y. Police Commissioner, personally promoted Petrosino to Sergeant of Detectives on July 20, 1895, making him the first Italian American to lead the department’s homicide division. In December 1908, Petrosino was promoted to Lieutenant and given command of the Italian Squad whose mission was to curtail the criminal activities of the Mafia and the Mano Nera. In 1909, Petrosino traveled to Italy to identify criminals who had immigrated to the United States. He was shot and killed in Palermo on March 12, 1909. More than a quarter-million people attended his funeral in Queens, N.Y. He remains the only N.Y. police officer to die in the line of duty outside of the United States. Petrosino’s name is engraved at the National Law Enforcement Officers’ memorial on Panel 56-E.