Officer Joseph Liburdi retired yesterday from a law enforcement career that spanned 23 years and covered dog patrol, bike patrol, new officer training and emergency medical services.
He cleaned out his locker, took home his photos and mementos of inside jokes with his co-workers, and left behind his weapon and badge—no longer Officer Joe, but “now I’m a ‘Regular Joe,’” he said.
“This department is like family to me, and I’m going to miss everyone," said Liburdi, who plans to spend more with his wife, Wendy, and their three boys, twins aged 10, and an 8-year-old.
Born and raised in Bedford, Liburdi, 47, attended Fox Lane High School—where he met his wife—and completed a two-year degree at Westchester Community College. He worked at some “odd jobs” and started his police career part-time with the Lewisboro Police Department. He was hired permanently by the Bedford PD in 1988.
“I’ve been around so long everyone calls me the mayor,” he joked.
Living in the community he served was a plus for Liburdi on the job, said Lt. Jeffrey Dickan, who supervised him for a number of years. “He’s a major part of the community, he knows everyone and everyone loves Joey,” he said. “He's always upbeat, which helped him bring on new officers.”
Police Chief William Hayes said Liburdi’s service-oriented work ethic contributed to the success of the department. “In addition to his regular patrol duties, Joe has a number of special qualifications that contributed to the success of the department. He taught new hires in the classroom—he gave me my initial orientation back in 1988, in fact. He possesses a skill set that will be difficult to replace,” said Hayes.
Liburdi said his strong work ethic came from his parents, who died in a car accident when he was only 19. His father was a “hardworking man who never called in sick,” and passed along the same drive and sense of community to his four children. The elder Liburdi was a former chief and member of the Bedford Hills Fire Department, and Joe Liburdi and his brother are both ex-chiefs.
When he described his career highlights, Liburdi recalled some painful experiences including “some pretty bad accidents,” but described joyful times when everything went as it should, like the time he assisted in delivering a baby at a home in Bedford Hills.
He said his training as an officer and emergency medical technician gave him the confidence to handle his duties without feeling anxious or nerve-wracked, even during some of his more exciting arrests, like the time he caught burglars breaking into a local car dealership and chased them down the Saw Mill Parkway until they were apprehended.
“That’s what we do—take the bad guys off the streets,” he said. “And you always have backup—it’s like a brotherhood.”
Though he said he already misses the camaraderie of the police department, he plans to maintain his close ties there, and with the fire department, where he now serves as assistant fire chief. After a 2007 bout with cancer, he is looking forward to spending weekends with his family.
“I see things a little differently now—I don’t let the little things bother me. I feel lucky to have had such a great job in a nice, safe area. But it’s time to move on.”