The men and women in a Bronx precinct will be on hand to posthumously remember their brother on the police force.
Police officer Manuel Vargas Jr., who passed away on November 1, 2018 from a rare type of brain cancer, will be honored with a street co-naming in front of the 49th Precinct at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 1.
That day would have been his 50th birthday, said his sister Cindy Vargas.
Vargas, who was on the force for decades, was a beloved cop in the four-nine and also in the 24th Precinct in Manhattan where he served for much of his career, his sister said.
Former 49th Precinct Community Affairs Detective Victor DiPierro, now retired, helped champion the cause to get a street co-named in honor of Vargas.
DiPierro said Vargas passed away from cancer that’s linked to exposure to toxins from working near the original World Trade Center after September 11, 2001.
DiPierro added that his and Vargas’ lockers at the precinct were near one another, and he came to know him well.
“He was just an overall great guy who was really passionate about what he did,” said DiPierro. “He cared about the community when he was out there and it was really tragic what happened to him.”
DiPierro added: “I still consider the four-nine home and it is like losing a family member, whether you are active or retired.
He said he worked with Councilman Mark Gjonaj’s office to get the street named in Vargas’s honor.
Gjonaj said that P.O. Vargas is remembered at the precinct, and that his fellow NYPD members would visit their friend in the hospital and pray with his family for his recovery.
“This is a way we can remember Manny Vargas and honor him for his service,” said Gjonaj. “We can never do enough to honor the brave men and women who serve this city, and this is a small token of appreciation for P.O.Vargas’ sacrifices.”
Vargas was a cop for a quarter of a century, said his sister, and he was down at Ground Zero for at least a couple of months in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.
“He was very friendly and he got along with everybody,” said Cindy Vargas, adding that he would often mentor rookie cops or police officers that were new to his precinct.
Vargas’ health issues began when he had a seizure in 2016 while working. He was taken to Jacobi Medical Center where he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, said his sister.
“He had surgery (in 2016) and went into remission, but all of a sudden the cancer came back strong,” said Cindy Vargas.
Eventually, the tumor affected his memory and gross motor ability.
Her family chose to honor her brother’s memory by having the co-naming on his birthday, said his sister.
Community Affairs police officer David Lepore of the 49th Precinct said that Vargas more than deserves the honor.
“We are extremely grateful to have such dedicated people in our community to make this happen,” said Lepore, adding that community, members of the department and DiPierro were instrumental in advancing Vargas’ trbute.
The police officer is survived by his mother and sister, his brother Ariel and son Manuel Vargas III, said Cindy.
Photo courtesy of Cindy Noesi