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P. O. Graffagnino is Shelter Island’s Officer of Year: Praised for saving infant’s life

Police Officer Andrew Graffagnino has been selected as Shelter Island’s Officer of the Year for 2020.

The announcement was made Tuesday by Police Chief Jim Read, who said that Officer Graffagnino’s performance should be the “standard of policing” as he “handles every assignment and call with a courteous and exceptionally positive attitude.”

Officer Graffagnino was selected after input from fellow officers and a review of departmental records and calls. He has consistently excelled over many years in arrest and vehicle and traffic enforcement, the chief said.

The officer was involved in a “noteworthy life-saving call,” when in the early morning hours of Sept. 12, 2020, he and Officer David McGayhey responded to a call of a newborn experiencing severe difficulty breathing.

New parents of the seven-day old infant were distraught and didn’t know what to do. The baby was held by the family’s nanny and was limp and not breathing. Officer Graffagnino used his infant CPR training, performing several back slaps followed by suctioning the infant’s nose and mouth, releasing mucus and partially clearing an obstructed airway. He continued to suction and perform back slaps as needed because mucus was constantly building up.

Shelter Island Emergency Medical Services personnel responded to transport the child and mother to Southampton Hospital.

When Officer Graffagnino reached out to the father several days later, he learned that while the infant had to be transported to multiple hospitals, a full recovery was expected.

“If not for the quick thinking and decisive actions of Officer Graffagnino, the infant may have lost her life that evening,” Chief Read said.

Officer McGayhey concurred, saying, “I believe that if Officer Graffagnino did not take this action, the outcome would have been different.”

The Island’s Officer of the Year joined the force full-time in May 2017. He was welcomed with warm applause as his grandfather, a retired Nassau County police officer, stepped up to pin on his grandson’s badge. His father, former Board of Education President Thomas Graffagnino, is a former New York City police officer.