Buffalo Police Officer Patricia Parete
LOCKPORT, NY - There's plenty of parks named after fallen heroes, soldiers, firefighters and police officers.
Usually it's not a controversial topic.
Buffalo police officer Patty Parete had such an outpouring of support after she was shot in the line of duty after her funeral this past February from spinal injuries. But, some her friends say they're having problems getting a park in Lockport named after her.
"That it's a crusade is a shame, I never intended for this to be a crusade and it shouldn't be," said Joe DiPasquale, who says he's on a journey to honor Parete, his life long-friend and former high school classmate.
Parete was shot and paralyzed in December 2006, while responding to a call. She was a Lockport native. She went to the city's high school in the 1980s.
DiPasquale says after Parete passed, some of her friends came up with the idea to name Rogers Avenue Park in Lockport after her -- honoring her life.
"Because we were so moved by this, by her death and so distraught over it," said DiPasquale outside his Buffalo home, "This should be a no-brainer. She is a daughter of Lockport, who should be honored with a park named after her."
Rogers Avenue was the only park DiPasquale says he could find that wasn't already named after someone else. In February, DiPasuqale says the city was receptive to the idea.
But now, City Council has denied naming the park after Parete.
"I was furious I was completely furious," DiPasquale said.
2 On Your Side went to Lockport Mayor Michael Tucker to get an explanation.
"We've had a lot of Lockportians die who have done a lot of great things for the city, I think what the city struggles with is you know how do you decide who's more qualified then the other?" Tucker said.
But, DiPasquale believes the explanation goes deeper than this and that the City Council will never honor Parete, in part because she's was a lesbian.
"Her sexual orientation - to say that it had nothing to do with it would be naive, to say that it would be the only reason would be too much," he said.
Mayor Tucker says that has never been an issue.
"No, it's totally irrelevant, never came up, don't care about it, this is 2013, we don't care about it," he said.
And instead, the city has set up a committee of local leaders to look at alternative locations to honor the brave officer.
In the past, Lockport has named parks after elected officials, business leaders and a WW II veteran. Mayor Tucker says the city will honor Parete, along with many other fallen Lockport heroes and has thrown out some possibilities like naming a park, a fountain or a plaza after them.
DiPasquale doesn't buy it.
And that's why he's setting up a rally at the Common Council's next meeting on Wednesday to demand that a Patty Parete Park be named.