The text message awakened Darren Pittman at 4:20 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2019. It disturbed the Glen Cove police officer, coming from a friend and fellow cop, a Nassau County officer who lived in Glen Cove. It expressed suicidal thoughts.
Pittman called the officer and grew even more alarmed after the conversation. He contacted the police department for backup and, still in his pajamas, jumped into his car and drove to his friend’s house, where he spotted him in his private vehicle.
Pittman immediately saw that the officer had his off-duty weapon in his hand and his duty revolver on the front seat. Acting quickly, Pittman wrestled the gun away and according to a narrative provided by the police, “The officer became hostile but was subsequently subdued by the responding officers and taken to the hospital for evaluation. The Nassau officer is currently receiving treatment and intervention from his command.”
“What was going on through your head when you got to the scene?” Pittman was asked.
“A ton of emotions,” he replied. “At that point more [concern about] his safety, making sure that he was okay. When everything turned out well it felt great because that officer is like a little brother to me. We still talk every day and whenever he needs something he gives me a call.”
Pittman was one of five officers recognized by Congressman Thomas Suozzi (D–Glen Cove) at a ceremony in front of the Glen Cove Police Department recently. They represented law enforcement agencies across his Third District.
Pittman had special significance for the congressman, a Glen Cove native and lifelong resident, and former mayor of the city.
When he first thought about holding the ceremony, Suozzi told Anton Media Group, “The first person I called was Glen Cove Police Chief William Whitton. He was immediately aboard saying, ‘Let me tell you a story.’ It was about officer Pittman, of course. I said, ‘Wow, you couldn’t ask for a better story. I’ve known that family for years.’”
“Darren, I’ve spoken to a lot of people about you and the praise that people have for you is universal,” Suozzi told Pittman. “You’re an exceptional person, a great leader, and we’re very fortunate to have you on the Glen Cove Police Department. I heard you were the valedictorian of your academy class. Is that correct?”
“Something like that,” the officer replied, drawing laughter.
“He’s modest, too,” Suozzi quipped.
Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder singled out Pittman for saving “one of our officer’s life. And that’s the brotherhood, the family among officers. We always look out for each other. We are willing to lay our lives down for each other.”
Pittman was reportedly the first officer not in Ryder’s department to receive the Medal of Valor, the highest decoration.
“It felt amazing,” Pittman said of the medal. “I never heard of it going to a non-Nassau officer. It was a true honor.”
Born and raised in the city, Pittman has been on the force 5½ years.