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Retired cop-turned-pol backed by widow of cop he rescued in 1992

This state Assembly candidate wants to turn his Staten Island district blue.

Thirty years ago, Paul Ciurcina Jr. made headlines as a hero cop who helped carry fellow NYPD officer Richard DeGaetano to safety after DeGaetano was shot in the head while trying to rescue a hostage in a Brooklyn landlord-tenant dispute.

DeGaetano died of cancer in 2006, but his wife Cathy hasn’t forgotten how Ciurcina saved her husband’s life and gave the couple another 14 years together.

Cathy DeGaetano told The Post she’s endorsing Ciurcina, a Republican, in his bid for an Assembly seat representing Staten Island’s mid-island section — a race that is wide open because of newly drawn district lines.

“He wants to clean up New York City and keep our streets safer,” the widow said. “We need to let cops do their jobs, and he’s what the city needs.”

The shooting left DeGaetano, right, blind in one eye.

Ciurcina has picked up other key endorsements – including Borough President Vito Fossella and the Detectives Endowment Association.

But he said DeGaetano’s endorsement trumps them all.

“Having support from her means a lot of me,” the retired detective and NYPD Medal of Honor recipient said. “It is more personal than any of the others.”

Ciurcina is running for the 63rd Assembly.
Ciurcina is running for the 63rd Assembly.

Ciurcina, 55, had never met DeGaetano until they were separately dispatched to the 1992 dispute in Bensonhurst, where a deranged gunman opened fire.

However, he certainly recognized him — just like much of the Big Apple. In the early 1990s, DeGaetano was the face of the Police Department’s “The Beat Cop is Back” ad campaign and his face was plastered on buses and billboards across the city.

The wound left him blind in one eye, but he later returned to the force after a grueling rehabilitation, working his way up to detective.

Ciurcina’s main rival in the race is Democrat Vincent Argenziano, the ex-chief of staff for Assemblyman Michael Cusick, who is not seeking re-election.

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