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Officer Jill Garcia started working at the 48th Precinct in 2003 and although cancer took her life six years later, her name will be linked with the precinct forever.
On a cold, raw morning on Thursday, March 24, the corner of Park Avenue and the Cross Bronx Expressway, where the 48th is located, was renamed Police Officer Jill Garcia Place.
Garcia was part of precinct’s domestic violence unit and worked closely with women in the precinct who were victims of domestic abuse and her fluency in Spanish allowed her to help the area’s large immigrant population. Garcia died in October, 2009 from the rare cancer leiomyosarcoma, after having been named the Cop of the Year. She was 34-years-old.
Garcia was born in Mahopac, New York in Putnam County and came from a Caucasian background, but picked up the surname Garcia from her husband, Gerardo.
“To me, she’s still with me,” Gerardo Garcia said after helping unveil the sign to honor his late wife. “It’s very hard just to understand that she’s gone, but at the same time I feel very proud of my wife.”
The Garcias were married for ten years and have three children, Sonia, 9 years old, Bianca, 6 years old, and Charlie, 4 years old.
Councilman Joel Rivera, who advocated for the street renaming, said the honor was not just about honoring Garcia, but about honoring he profession.
“This is to show that the work a police officer is really respected,” Rivera said. “They’re risking their lives every second that they’re on the street. I think between the police department and the fire department, we should be naming every street after them. This is just a small way of saying ‘thank you.’
Garcia entered the Police Academy in 2000 and was assigned to the 46th Precinct in Fordham Heights. After three years, she was transferred to the 48th, which is where she made her name as an exceptional talent in dealing with domestic violence cases.
She also was able to put victims and witnesses at ease, who otherwise would be wary of the police because of their immigration status. She also made over 120 arrests during her career.
Juan Rodriguez was her partner on the domestic violence beat at the 48th Precinct.
“She was a great cop,” Rodriguez said. “She was always happy, even when she saw the worst of the worst, and she was better at Spanish then me, even though I’m Puerto Rican.”
Garcia also had one habit that Rodriguez remembers clearly from the countless hours they spent together in the squad car.
“She was always singing,” he said. “No matter if the radio was off, it could be any song, but she was always singing something.”
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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