By Emily Ammann
A Huntington hero was honored in the state capital last Tuesday.
Second Precinct Police Officer Mark Collins, who was shot in the neck and hip by a suspected gang member during an arrest last year, was honored for his exemplary service by Assemblyman Chad A. Lupinacci (R, C, I-South Huntington) and his colleagues in both the state assembly and state senate.
Collins said he was “shocked” that he and his family were invited to Albany.
“I’m a quiet person; I didn’t think I would be asked to have such an honor,” he said.
Nonetheless, he continued, it was “a good feeling” to have the support of people in the government while doing his duties day in and day out within the force.
Collins was shot after a routine traffic stop near East Jericho Turnpike in Huntington Station on March 11, 2015. The confrontation with Sheldon Leftenant, a suspected gang member, left Collins seriously wounded and temporarily paralyzed. Despite his injuries, he was able to aid in the subject’s arrest before being taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center for rehabilitation. After recovering, he returned to the SCPD as part of the emergency services team.
For his work with the SCPD, Collins was also recently given the Medal of Valor by the Police Conference of New York.
Assemblyman Lupinacci said he and Michael Venditto (R, C, IP-Massapequa), both of whom sponsored the resolution to honor Collins, always wanted to have the officer visit Albany.
“I know my colleagues and I all shared the same sentiments, that he’s a great individual and a dedicated public servant,” Lupinacci said.
The assemblyman also stressed the significance of acknowledging everyday heroes, such as Collins.
“Sometimes they fall under the radar, but they’re always doing their jobs, and doing them well,” Lupinacci said.
He added that these people “don’t look for accolades… Service is just ingrained in their everyday lives,” making it all the more important to honor their efforts.