City of Holyoke Honors Officer John DiNapoli Text Size

Mayor Morse has ordered that all City flags be flown at half-mast in honor of John DiNapoli, a Holyoke police officer killed in the line of duty 15 years ago today.

Tonight at 6 PM the Holyoke Police Department will hold a candlelight vigil at the John DiNapoli statue on Appleton Street. All are welcome to join and reflect on John DiNapoli’s remarkable life of service.

“Today, we lower the flags to honor an amazing man whose life is still an inspiration. Especially in light of recent tragedies across the country, I encourage all Holyokers to reflect on the sacrifice of John DiNapoli and of all police officers who give of themselves to make our communities safe,” Mayor Morse said.  

“People here remember DiNapoli with great affection,” Chief Neiswanger said. “I didn’t know DiNapoli personally, but I made the trip to Holyoke back in 1999 to attend his funeral services. That’s what we do when one of our brothers and sisters in blue pays the ultimate sacrifice. DiNapoli gave our officers a great example to live up to.”

 Those who served with DiNapoli remember him as a kind, loving, and quick-witted man.

“John was a fun guy,” said George Gerard, a retired sergeant who worked for the Holyoke Police Department for 36 years. “He was always a pleasure to be around, and he would do anything for anybody. As a police officer, he had a great feeling for people. He was a great communicator. He could go into a chaotic situation, and by the end everybody would be laughing and smiling.”

Dennis Egan, a retired officer of 34 years, remembers when a group of officers, including DiNapoli, started a Christmas tradition of giving toys to Holyoke kids living in high crime neighborhoods. 

“We really wanted the kids in higher crime neighborhoods to know that the Holyoke Police cared about them,” Egan said.

 Because DiNapoli was killed so close to Christmas in 1999, the officers that year wondered whether to proceed as planned.

“We had the toys all ready, and we decided John would have wanted us to do it,” Egan said.

And so, just three days after the death of their dear friend and colleague, members of the Holyoke Police Department—with Egan dressed as Santa Claus—honored DiNapoli’s generous spirit by giving toys to Holyoke kids in need.  

“John was a man of great compassion,” Egan said. “He went through life’s ups and downs with a great sense of humor. He was the kind of guy who got to be friends with everybody. And he was a very good policeman. When he died, it was felt all over the city. He really took the words to heart: protect and serve.”

The Holyoke Police Department is still collecting toys for this year’s Christmas tradition. Mayor Morse encourages people to drop toys off at the Holyoke Police Department. 

Posted on December 22, 2014 by