This is first in a series of articles written for the Port Washington Police Department (PWPD) who celebrates their 100th Anniversary this year. On Saturday, Aug. 28 from 4 to 8 p.m. the Department will host a celebration in the LIRR parking lot, on the Haven Avenue side – with food trucks, games and rides for the kids, a band will be playing the entire evening, and there will be a display of PWPD History, as well as many of the tactical gear that the officers use.
POLICE OFFICER SHIELA BREEN
Police Officer Shiela Breen was the first female Police Officer that the Port Washington Police Department hired. Shiela was born on Sept. 30, 1957 to Virginia and Walter Breen, a Nassau County Police Department Sergeant. Sheila spent many of her early years in Port Washington, completing her early schooling through sixth grade before moving with her family to Glenwood Landing.
Sheila was devoted to her family, especially her father. Her father died in 1973, at the very young age of 44. Her devotion to her father’s memory was apparent when she decided upon a personal career in law enforcement. On Sept. 19, 1981, she followed those same footsteps and was sworn in as a Police Officer of the Port Washington Police District and joined the P.B.A.
From the very beginning, Breen presented a unique professional profile. She demonstrated skills and abilities in human relations, crisis intervention and police community relations well beyond her years.
She was petite and attractive and would often be the first officer to arrive at a scene and would take decisive action at incidents of civil and domestic disturbances, which often posed elements of immediate danger to her.
PWPD Chief, Robert Delmuro remembers Sheila as she was ‘The first female Police Office for Port Washington. Of course people were skeptical about a female Officer, but she handled her job as well as any male officer that we had. She was also one of the nicest persons you ever wanted to meet.’
During late 1984, only three years into her career, Breen learned that she had cancer. She did, however, continue to fulfill her oath of service in spite of her suffering. Her PBA members marveled at her courage and optimism. Although she endured constant discomfort, she continued to perform full patrol duties with a special sense of caring, compassion, justice and civility that will always endear her in the hearts and minds of those fortunate who were served by her and with her. At times, when her pain was insurmountable, her fellow colleagues would work her shift, to allow her time and ability to stay on the job.
During September of 1985, Breen succumbed to her insidious illness at the youthful age of 27 years.
Sheila was laid to rest with full police honors. Sheila was named “Person of the Year” for 1985-86 within the P.B.A. for her professional dedication to her police duties, which she continued to perform even while gravely ill. Her dedication was exemplary.
Since 1987, the Port Washington P.B.A. has awarded a scholarship, each year, in Sheila’s name to a senior who resides in the Port Washington Police District, has obtained academic achievement, and will study law or law enforcement in their future college years. The 2021 awardee is Ella Saunders.
—Submitted by Pam Monfort