‘Above and beyond in everything he did’
Paterson Motorcycle Officer Jose Torres sat in a back booth at Libby’s Lunch, a diner in town, crying. He just found out his mother was diagnosed with cancer and didn’t know who to call. Suddenly, epically, fortuitously, Francesco Scorpo popped into Libby’s to grab a sandwich.
Seeing his best friend from the Paterson Traffic Unit and being that type of listener that everybody could always talk to, Frank lent Torres one of his massive shoulders. And then Scorpo took action.
Torres’ mother was living in Florida, and Frank was determined to get him there as soon as possible. He called Torres’ wife and got her to book him a flight to Florida. He drove him home to pack, went to pick up his son, came back to Paterson to get Torres and beelined to Newark-Liberty in time to make the flight.
“He hauled ass all the way,” Torres remembered. “That was him, a class act. He would go above and beyond in everything he did. If there was such a thing as a gentle giant, it was definitely him.”
Scorpo’s larger-than-life presence will continue to watch over the traffic unit, the department, Paterson Local 1 and, of course, his two boys and beloved wife Kristina after he passed on April 12 due to complications from contracting the novel coronavirus. His presence extended so above and beyond that nearly 100 motors officers from across New Jersey formed an illustrious procession at his funeral.
Artim Hani, Scorpo’s partner in the traffic unit, continues to feel his presence with every sip of his morning espresso. They used to hit the coffee shop on McBride Avenue every morning for a hit of espresso and discuss how they could make a difference that day. Hani met Scorpo at the academy five years ago, worked in a beat car with him for two and half years and saw everyday how he wanted to be a person who would always inspire 4-year-old Francesco Jr. and six-month old Santino to honor their father.
“He never had a bad day. He was never in a bad mood,” Hani praised. “He was the first one to jump up for a traffic assignment. He was the first one to pay the check.”
Torres first found out how far Scorpo would go out of his way to help people when his oldest daughter got her driver’s license. In one of her first foray’s on her own in the car, she got stuck in the snow. Torres was stuck on the job, so Scorpo and Hani left their end-of-tour briefing with their sergeant to come to her rescue. They shoveled her out, drove her home and even went back to get her car.
“He was just so meticulous about his stuff that he was Mr. Clean,” Torres added. “But he would lend you anything and tell you to keep it.”
Scorpo was so bent on giving the shirt off his back that he probably ran out of shirts a long time ago. That’s probably what compelled him to repeated responses like when he and Hani had to take over kitchen duties when they came on the traffic unit because they were low men on the totem pole. That included washing the dishes, throwing out the garbage and cooking meals.
“He went out a bought a meat slicer because he believed every good Italian kitchen should have one,” Torres shared. “He loved the department and he loved to put on his uniform. Even though I only knew him for a short time, he was the kindest person I ever met. He was a complete gentleman. There’s no other way to describe Frank.”