By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Officers from the 13th Precinct joined friends and family members of slain Police Officer Anthony Sanchez on Friday for a ceremony to rededicate the section of East 20th Street between Second and Third Avenue named in his honor on the 20th anniversary of his death.
Sanchez had worked at the precinct for 10 years with his partner, now-retired Detective Roy Ruland, who attended the ceremony last week, in addition to Sanchez’s widow, Elizabeth, and mother, Loretta.
Sanchez’s son John couldn’t make it to the ceremony but Elizabeth read a statement he had prepared, where he expressed the pride he felt whenever he came across the part of East 21st Street that had been co-named in honor of his father.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since we last spoke to Anthony, and we thought this would be a faded memory but time and again, they proved us wrong,” she added, referring to the support that the precinct has offered her and her family since her husband’s death.
East 21st Street between Second and Third was officially renamed “Police Officer Anthony Sanchez Way” in 1999. Sanchez was killed on May 19, 1997 when he was responding to a robbery on West 17th Street. The suspect, Scott Schneiderman, was attempting to rob his own father and was sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 2002.
Ruland, who had responded to the robbery with Sanchez, said that it was hard to be at the ceremony but he said he knew that his partner would want him to think of the happy memories.
“He would want us to focus on the happy times that he brought us,” Ruland said. “He was such a strong personality with a one-of-a-kind smile. He’ll always be with me and this is what makes him remain with me personally.”
Thirteenth Precinct Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney, Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan, Chief James Murtagh, Chief of Housing James Secreto, Chief of Transit Joseph Fox and other members of the NYPD were also at the ceremony. Timoney said that although he didn’t know Sanchez personally, he noted that Sanchez was well-known for his outgoing personality and easily cultivated relationships with people in the neighborhood and fellow officers alike. Other speakers echoed this sentiment, noting that Sanchez enjoyed his work.
“He relished helping people,” said Gramercy Park Block Association president Arlene Harrison. “He was known for his outgoing personality and he had this ability to develop a rapport with neighborhood residents and shopkeepers.”
His mother, Loretta Sanchez, added that her son often tried to use this ability to help people he arrested as well.
“Even the people he arrested, he would try to help them and connect with them,” she said. “He was dedicated to his work.”