The Buffalo Police Department's longest-serving police officer is about to retire and will be honored with a testimonial party on May 25.
Capt. Mark S. Antonio, 64, joined the city police force in January 1973, when Richard M. Nixon was president and Bills' running back O.J. Simpson was Buffalo's biggest sports star.
Antonio said he joined the department "because there was steady work, with no layoffs," but he ended up loving police work. His 45-plus-year career included almost 20 years of patrol duty, mostly on the city's West Side. He also spent time working at the city impound garage, the Police Headquarters Cellblock, the Detective Bureau and the Central Booking Bureau.
He said one case from the early 1980s has always stuck in his mind.
"A young woman was very seriously hurt in a car crash in front of D'Youville College. We ended up charging her boyfriend with driving under the influence," Antonio recalled. "The poor girl died in my arms. I was telling her, 'Hold on, you can make it, the ambulance is just around the corner,' but she didn’t make it. I'll never forget that."
A Lancaster resident, Antonio has five daughters, one son – Mark Jr., a Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority police officer – and three grandchildren.
Antonio had a serious health scare in December, when he collapsed and was hospitalized due to hypertension. He has been on sick leave since and officially retires on June 30.
His retirement party is at 6 p.m. on May 25 in the Pub at the Park, located at the Coca-Cola Field baseball park. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at the door or through the Buffalo Police Benovelent Association at 851-4501.