Common Sense: Remembering Detective Steven McDonald

Over the years, I have had a couple of opportunities to be in the presence of Detective Steven McDonald and his wife Patti. Despite his severe injuries, he got around and certainly touched the lives of not just police officers and their families, but of all New Yorkers.

On occasion, I would see Patti and Detective McDonald in Albany pushing for some common-sense measure that they thought would better protect police officers and/or their families. Patti McDonald was also for several years the mayor of their Nassau County Village of Malvern, so she could have additional reasons to be in Albany lobbying.

Her presence was always a significant event as a result of the high profile nature of the tragedy Stephen went through, but in my opinion more as a result of his good works in the years following.

I have no intention of one-upping Cardinal Dolan who strongly suggested that Detective McDonald had lived the life of a saint and should be considered for canonization. I will say that if a saint is someone who, under the most adverse and painful circumstances, manages to improve the lives of countless people that he comes into contact with and does it day after day – then Detective Stephen McDonald probably lives up to the cardinal’s characterization.

NYPD Sergeant Conor McDonald, Steven’s son who never knew McDonald prior to his injuries, in eulogizing him talked about his immense strength both in terms of his ability to move forward and the strength of personality that allowed him to forgive the young man who wounded him.

He described his father with a word that is all too often loosely thrown around, but in this case so apropos. He called him a “real Superman,” as well as his hero. He was New York’s hero and I am so pleased that he and his family were shown such a great degree of respect by all New Yorkers with tributes and a funeral that will be remembered for many years to come.

But more importantly and I think he would agree, he honored all of us over the past three decades with an approach to life that in itself was a positive lesson that one could take away for themselves or their children.

May Steven McDonald rest in peace! And may his family find comfort in the knowledge that his was a life well-lived.


State Senator Marty Golden (whom I serve as chief of staff) is suggesting that New York City name or rename a landmark, park or other significant place or facility after Steven McDonald as a tribute to his importance to our city and its residents.

On the senator’s Facebook account, many, many suggestions have been made. Two which seem to have been suggested a bit more than the others are naming a part of Central Park after McDonald (as you know, Central Park is where the attack took place) and naming the Police Academy after him.

I was surprised to learn that the Police Academy is not already named after a fallen police officer. Having learned that it does remain unnamed, I think naming the academy the Detective Stephen McDonald Police Academy would be a fitting honor.

Certainly, McDonald, who remained a member of the force, visiting precincts and other commands to deliver inspirational talks to the members of the service — particularly the young members — about the importance of their work, considered his service a central part of his being.

I hope New York City takes seriously the senator’s suggestions. And if it does, my vote would go for naming the Police Academy after Detective McDonald.

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