Larchmont Police Chief John Poleway missed the Monday night Village Board meeting in order to be in Albany speaking on behalf of the Police Department and against the parole of Anthony Curtis Blanks, who was convicted of killing Larchmont Patrolman Arthur Dematte on October 12, 1976.
Patrolman Dematte is the only member of the Larchmont police force to have been killed in the line of duty. On the day he died, he was responding to a call about a person – later identified as Mr. Blanks – who was wandering on the Metro North train tracks behind what is now the Guitar Center off Palmer Avenue.
According to accounts from 1976, Mr. Blanks got a hold of the patrolman’s service weapon and used it to shoot Mr. Dematte three times.
Mr. Blanks has served thirty-three years on a 25-to-life sentence. Offenders who have served the minimum term are eligible to request a parole hearing every other year. Mr. Blanks had requested a hearing for this month.
Also in Albany to read a message from Mr. Dematte’s family was former Larchmont Mayor Liz Feld. Her father, Maurice Feld, was Larchmont’s mayor when Mr. Dematte was killed. Alice (Dematte) Connell, the patrolman’s widow still lives in the Village of Larchmont.
|We, the family of Patrolman Arthur Dematte, would like to express our strong belief that Anthony Curtis Blanks should not, at this time nor at any time in the future, be paroled. Mr. Blanks, as his actions have shown, places little value on life.
Patrolman Dematte presented no threat to Mr. Blanks, as he responded to a trespassing complaint with the intent to remove Mr. Blanks from the railroad tracks where he was obstructing train traffic. As eye-witnesses have attested, Patrolman Dematte was unarmed and fleeing his assailant. Despite this, Mr. Blanks, without provocation or justification, pursued him and shot him at close range, not once but a total of three times. Given such a blatant disregard for life, Mr. Blanks does not deserve to walk a free man.
By his purposeful actions, Mr. Blanks took a father from his four young children and a husband from his wife. It may seem that after 34 years, our family would have “recovered” from our loss and moved on. This is not, nor will it ever be true. Each time our family celebrates a milestone, we feel anger and sadness that our father/husband is not present. He was not present for his children’s graduations, weddings, or the birth of his grandchildren. We still feel his absence as we watch each of his grandchildren attain these same milestones.
Every two years, as we are notified of an upcoming parole hearing, old wounds are opened and our hearts again ache. We respectfully request that Mr. Blanks be denied parole this year and in upcoming years. Granting parole sends the wrong message about how we value the men and women who risk their lives to keep us safe.
The Family of Arthur Dematte
Larchmont Mayor Josh Mandell issued his own statement, on behalf of the board, expressing sorrow for the senseless killing and respect and gratitude for the performance of all the members of the Larchmont Police Department. He affirmed that fact that the entire community cherishes the memory of Patolman Dematte’s dedicated service to the Village of Larchmont.
Ultimately, Mr. Blank’s hearing was postponed because his file was missing paperwork needed by the Parole Board. He is expected to have his case heard within a month, according to a spokesperson for the Parole Board.
Joshua L. Mandell
Larchmont lost a very good man on October 12, 1976. On that tragic day, Patrolman Arthur Dematte was fatally shot in the line of duty by a man who had gained control of his service revolver. This is important to understand because it highlights the senselessness of the crime – at the time of the killing, Patrolman Dematte was unarmed and, therefore, presented no threat to the shooter. The fact that he was pursued and shot multiple times only serves to underline the depravity and indifference of the act.
Arthur was a well-known and loved member of this village, having earned a reputation as a hero at work and with his family long before that fateful day. His family’s loss was, and continues to be, shared by the entire Village of Larchmont. It reminds us that, while we may live in one of the safest communities in the country, we are safe from harm only because brave and fearless individuals stand in harm’s way every day of the year. Patrolman Dematte was pronounced dead at 7:10pm, barely one hour after responding to the call that would be his last. His fellow officers were undoubtedly devastated, yet appeared for duty later that day and continued to fight to protect the residents that Arthur had dedicated his life to protecting. This is how they honor his service each and every day.
This week, Patrolman Dematte’s killer will once again attempt to gain parole. Thirty-three years is a long time and the heinous act perpetrated by Anthony Curtis Blanks may seem a distant memory to some. Let me assure you, however, that the senseless killing of Patrolman Arthur Dematte is never far from memory in the Village of Larchmont.