National Police Defense Foundation bringing Ecuadoran officer to U.S. for artificial leg

SPECIAL REPORT: A Ecuadoran police officer who lost her right leg in a hit-and-run during a traffic stop will get an artificial limb, thanks to the National Police Defense Foundation, which will honor her at its State Troopers Coalition dinner in Garfield this fall.

Photo Credit: Scott Sabolich Prosthetics & Research Center (INSET: Angelica Borja
Photo Credit: Scott Sabolich Prosthetics & Research Center (INSET: Angelica Borja
Photo Credit: Scott Sabolich Prosthetics & Research Center (INSET: Angelica Borja

COURTESY: Scott Sabolich Prosthetics & Research Center (INSET: Angelica Borja)

Joseph Occhipinti, the NPDF’s executive director, was at a police conference in Quito, Ecuador with officials from the Ecuadoran National Police Hospital in February when Angelica Borja asked for help.

Occhipinti, a former federal agent, contacted Debra Smith, the executive director of “The Limb for Life Foundation,” a non-profit organization in Oklahoma City.

The agency approved his request for both the limb and rehabilitation at the Scott Sabolich Prosthetics & Research Center there.

Borja, 30, and NPDF representatives will stay at an Oklahoma City hotel affiliated with the center.

The NPDF is covering all air transportation, lodging and related per-diem costs.

“This is a wonderful thing we’re able to do,” Occhipinto told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. “It’s vital to our mission of helping police officers in need throughout the world.”

Borja is being helped through the NPDF’s “Safe Cop” program, which posts a $10,000 reward for public information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person who shoots at a law enforcement officer and provides medical and related support services to law enforcement officials injured in the line of duty.

Besides the limb, the center has scheduled three weeks of rehabilitation following the Sept. 17 procedure.

That’s provided she gets a non-immigrant visa.

Occhipinti, a retired federal agent with the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s Anti-Smuggling Unit, got a Sept. 12 appointment at the American Consulate in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

If approved, she is expected to arrive at JFK International Airport three days later. The flight’s already booked, in fact.

From there, Borja, Occhipinti and others will head to Newark Airport for a United Airlines flight to Oklahoma City.

She’s due back in New York City on Oct. 7 and will receive a Valor Award at the 2012 State Troopers Coalition Awards Dinner scheduled for Oct. 10 at the Venetian.

Occhipinti thanked the Ecuadoran National Police, the “Limb for Life” Foundation, Port Authority Police of New York & New Jersey, the Oklahoma City Police Department and the DEA Attaché in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I am being honored, as well, with this year’s Excellence in Media Award at the State Trooper’s Coalition dinner. Those interested in attending the annual event, set for 6 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Venetian, 546 River Road, Garfield, contact: NPDF Executive Assistant Michele Vogel, (732) 617-2330

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