By Lisa Smith
Dear Detective Dash, or may I call you Stanley?
You’re gone now, having died from COVID on May 29th, so you won’t be reading this, but I want the world to know: you were one of the good guys that helped put me back together. You know my entire story, as you were assigned to my case and heard it again and again.
I was strangled and suffocated, nearly to death, in my Manhattan apartment by a man I’d dated for three months. At the time, as I gasped for breath, I thought, “When is he going to stop? Am I being murdered? This can’t be happening to me.” Looking up at my ceiling, lying nearly lifeless on my back, I realized, “This is really happening to me!”
Finally, he stopped, as perhaps he didn’t want to get put away for murder. Evidence was all over my body. My neck was badly bruised, I could barely speak, and I was paralyzed by fear and paranoia. I didn’t know where to turn to or what to do. Still, to this day, I haven’t told most of the complete story to my parents, family, or friends. Over a week after the incident, desperate, I did finally file a police report.
The first time that we met, you were dressed in casual clothes and had a huge smile on your face. You were so calm, friendly and approachable. I immediately felt at ease. You reassured me that I would be OK. You told me, “Don’t worry Lisa, we will get him.” And I knew that you would. You were a man of honor, of your word.
During the month between filing the police report and my attacker’s arrest, you watched out for me on the streets—traveling to work and domestic violence counseling with me to ensure my safety as I fought for my life. You called, you checked up on me, and you made me laugh. But most of all, you made me feel safe.
Two weeks before you arrested him, you appeared in my dream. I was standing across the street from you and my attacker was coming out of a building. You looked at me, I nodded my head yes, and you arrested him right there in front of me.
The attacker was charged with Criminal Obstruction of Breath/Applied Pressure, Strangulation in the Second Degree, and Menacing in the Second Degree (perpetrator has a weapon). He served time in federal prison, thanks to you, Detective Dash.
While the attacker was at Rikers, I received eight letters and 53 phone calls from jail. Due to a five-year order of protection, I filed two more police reports and you, Detective Dash, went to Rikers—twice—to re-arrest him.
I’ll never know or understand why that happened to me, Detective Dash. I cried and cried for months afterward. It felt like tears way past what the human mind could comprehend. I spent countless hours away from work, my family, and my friends.
So many people helped me in the battle to regain my self-esteem and normalcy: the district attorney’s office, the domestic violence counselors at Sanctuary for Families, and the NYPD. I am forever grateful.
Thankfully, I had you and the 6th Precinct by my side. I doubted that I’d get through it, but you always reassured me that I would be OK. You helped me through the most horrific and difficult period in my life. Without you, I would not have survived that nightmare.
Every day, each one of you devotes your time to serving our community for the better good. You sacrifice time away from your families, and risk your lives, to bring safety to our streets. Your roles and hard work go unrecognized and unappreciated.
I am especially grateful for you, Detective Dash. You devoted 30 years of service, as a veteran and to the NYPD’s anti-crime unit and detective squad. You faced crime and violence, daily, to help complete strangers. You had such a wonderful sense of humor, considering.
For me, New York City feels a little less safe without you here, yet I know that you will always watch over me. You are a true hero.
Rest in peace, Detective.
Lisa Smith, author of “Unschooled,” is launching Relationship Truth—a high school and college workshop that educates and empowers young adults about healthy and unhealthy relationships—to build an unapologetic, uncut, unbreakable movement to end relationship abuse.