Joseph (Giuseppe) Petrosino (1860-1909) was the first Italian-American lieutenant and detective in the New York City Police Department. Petrosino formed the "Italian Branch", an elite corps of Italian-American undercover police that combated the "Black Hand" (Mano Nego) crime organization in America and Italy. As a result, thousands of organized crime figures were arrested. He also founded the bomb and canine squads, the first units of their kind in the United States.
Petrosino was killed in Palermo, making him the only New York City police officer to lose his life in the line of duty outside the United States. Upon his death, President Theodore Roosevelt declared, "Petrosino was a great man and a good man ... he did not know the name of fear." Many thousands of mourners attended his state funeral.
Joseph Petrosino remains a symbol of justice and social responsibility. The Lieutenant Detective Joseph Petrosino Awards are presented to outstanding police officers and other distinguished individuals in law enforcement.
Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino
Born 1860 Padula (Sa), Italy
Died 1909 Palermo, Italy
New York City Police Department 1883-1909