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Updated: November 19, 2018, 11:56 AM

Community Board to Reconsider Naming Street to Honor Cop Killed in Iraq

Initial Rejection Stunned Family, PBA


James D. McNaughton

A Lower Manhattan community board that voted down a request to co-name a street for the first NYPD Officer killed during the Iraq War may revisit the issue.

The request, by the NYPD’s Transit District Two, to co-name West Broadway between Lispenard and Canal Sts. for Police Officer James D. McNaughton cleared Community Board 1’s transportation committee but was then voted down by the full board on Oct. 23. The board's vote provoked the anger of fellow officers and his family.

Chin Interceded

But following discussions with the office of Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who represents the area, the board’s chairman, Anthony Notaro Jr., suggested in a phone interview that CB1 members could once again take up the matter. “We are looking at that,” said Mr. Notaro, who had voted in favor of the co-naming.

Although the board is precluded from reconsidering the same resolution, Mr. Notaro said, it could once again address the co-naming should a new resolution come from its transportation committee.

Although the board’s vote is nonbinding—the City Council has the final say on street co-namings—Ms. Chin’s Chief of Staff, Paul Leonard, said the Council’s process requires that a co-naming have the backing of a community board.“We have encouraged the community board to reconsider given the support of Police Officer McNaughton’s family and his colleagues at Transit District Two” for the co-naming, Mr. Leonard said.

PBA Taken Aback 

The board’s 21 to 12 vote last month against the co-naming was met by incredulity from Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch.

“PO James McNaughton gave his life fighting the war on terrorism that started within the confines of Community Board 1 with the attack on the World Trade Center,” Mr. Lynch said in a statement. “The decision to deny renaming one short street in honor of his sacrifice is absolutely reprehensible and is an insult to every NYC Police Officer and to every family who has lost a loved one fighting to defend our country. Every member of CB 1 who voted against this small honor should hang their heads in shame for this unconscionably poor decision.”

Mr. Notaro said the co-naming was appropriate.

“He deserves to be recognized,” he said of Officer McNaughton. “To me it was very obvious. He made a tremendous sacrifice. It was a deserving co-naming.”

Officer McNaughton, a 27-year-old Army Reservist from Uniondale, L.I., was the first city Police Officer killed in action during “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” according to the NYPD.

Joined NYPD And Reserves

He enlisted in the Reserves following an honorable discharge from the Army in 2001. According to a tribute page, he joined the NYPD the day after his discharge. Assigned to Transit District Two, which is at the Canal St. subway station at West Broadway and Lispenard, Officer McNaughton patrolled subways from midnight to 8 a.m.

He was called up by the Army in October 2002, participating in a classified mission in Maryland through 2003, according to the tribute page.

He was deployed overseas the next year. Assigned to the 306th Military Police Battalion, 800th Military Police Brigade, Officer McNaughton, a staff sergeant, was teaching Iraqi police officers to run a prison in Baghdad when he was killed by sniper fire on Aug. 2, 2005, according to the community board’s resolution. He had volunteered for what was thought to be a dangerous assignment since other members of his unit were raising families.

Like She Was Punched

Officer McNaughton’s stepmother, Michele McNaughton, who was present at the vote, said Nov. 14 that she was floored by the outcome.

“I felt like everyone who voted ‘no’ punched me in the stomach,” she said.

She said board members’ rationale for rejecting the co-naming—that, by turns, it would be confusing to motorists or that it would amount to an endorsement of the war—was incomprehensible.

“I just don’t understand the what and why...We’re not changing Manhattan,” said Mrs. McNaughton, a former New York City Police Officer. “My son was doing his duty for his country.”