From Dead on the Table - To Fighting for the Wounded and Officers across America
By Valerie Velazquez-Stetz (Ret.) J.C.P.D.
Detective Mario Oliveira proudly served the Somerville Police Department for 17 years. His life changed forever on Nov. 2, 2010. While being assigned out to the ATF Boston Office as a Task Force Agent. Detective Oliveira was shot six times at point-blank range while serving a federal arrest warrant. He pulled over the vehicle and was shot by the actor and by crossfire from his squad. Detective Oliveira was rushed to the Emergency Room where the paramedics, other officers, the surgeon, his grandma and God had a hand in his recovery. Mario was dead on the table for 2 minutes. With the help of God and his grandmother’s spirit he came back to life. At this time, Mario, who had a wife and one son, did not know his wife was pregnant with their second son. The injuries sustained during this incident forced Oliveira to retire. Since being retired, Mario has dedicated his time to educating and assisting police departments and law enforcement officers and their families on the dangers of police work. He educates on coping skills due to the tragedy of serious injury or death in the line of duty. He is the executive director of the New England Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors. He is also a co-founder of Violently Injured Police Officers Association (V.I.P.O) (both 501c3 nonprofit organizations), along with retired Woburn Police Officer Robert DeNapoli. Oliveira is currently employed with the New England State Police Information Network (NESPIN) as the Eastern Massachusetts Metro/Boston area law enforcement coordinator.
Officer Robert DeNapoli served the Woburn Police Department proudly for 17 years as a patrol officer. On Sept. 6, 2011, DeNapoli was shot several times while responding to an armed robbery at a local jewelry store. He was shot in the face, trigger hand and throughout his body. He sustained permanent career-ending injuries. With the help of his wife and children, he was able to recover at home after several surgeries. His one son followed his example and became a police officer as well.
Both officers from the State of Massachusetts fought for their full pension “special legislation” which was granted to a few officers prior to them. They did not think it was fair for them to receive only 70% instead of the full 100%. It took them a couple of years, but eventually they were granted their full salaries tax-free, benefits, and pay increases until the age of 65. They can also be gainfully employed, with the exception of being a police officer. It is their mission to have every state recognize those officers severely injured on the job. As it stands, officers find themselves being punished for surviving a work-related serious injury. By receiving a pay cut (in N.J 66 ⅔) and ZERO cost of living increases, these injured officers are often forgotten. Their whole world changes and their future dreams are destroyed. The careers that they loved can be taken away in a blink of an eye, and through no fault of their own. It is taken away as a result of doing their jobs to protect the cities or towns that they served. Their families are not cared for as well. We all need to do our part for our brothers to achieve their goals, to help every tragically injured officer receive 100% of their salary throughout the United States.
V.I.P.O has recently created a new piece of commonsense legislation (SD815) that is currently up for debate. This will help make nighttime traffic stops safer for both our officers and operators alike. It is also refreshingly succinct, clear and concise and much shorter and more to the point than any proposed legislation state lawmakers have seen in some time. The “LIGHTS ON” bill mandates that any driver of a vehicle that is stopped by the police after dark activate their interior cabin lights upon pulling to the side of the road and stopping. Of the 46 officers who were shot and killed nationwide in 2017, eight, or 17%, were killed by motorists whom they had stopped. Detective Oliveira and Officer DeNapoli are extremely grateful to State Sen. Bruce Tarr for his continuing support to bring this safety issue to the forefront. They hope that the entire legislature and the governor will support this “LIGHTS ON” bill and set the tone for what could be a huge safety factor for officers nationwide.