Detective Joseph A. Cavitolo

Detective Joseph A. Cavitolo

New York City Police Department, New York

End of Watch Friday, October 25, 2013

Joseph A. Cavitolo

Detective Joseph Cavitolo died from illnesses caused by inhaling toxic materials while partaking in the rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site following terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Detective Cavitolo served with the New York City Police Department for 23 years.

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, seventy-two officers from a total of eight local, state, and federal agencies were killed when terrorist hijackers working for the al Qaeda terrorist network, headed by Osama bin Laden, crashed four hijacked planes into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

After the impact of the first plane into the World Trade Center's North Tower, putting the safety of others before their own, law enforcement officers along with fire and EMS personnel, rushed to the burning Twin Towers of the World Trade Center to aid the victims and lead them to safety. Due to their quick actions, it is estimated that over 25,000 people were saved.

As the evacuation continued, the South Tower unexpectedly collapsed as a result of the intense fire caused by the impact. The North Tower collapsed a short time later. Seventy-one law enforcement officers, 343 members of the New York City Fire Department and over 2,800 civilians were killed at the World Trade Center site.

A third hijacked plane crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania when the passengers attempted to re-take control of the plane. One law enforcement officer, who was a passenger on the plane, was killed in that crash.

The fourth hijacked plane was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, killing almost 200 military and civilian personnel. No law enforcement officers were killed at the Pentagon on 9/11.

The terrorist attacks resulted in the declaration of war against the Taliban regime, the illegal rulers of Afghanistan, and the al Qaeda terrorist network which also was based in Afghanistan.

On September 9th, 2005, all of the public safety officers killed on September 11th, 2001, were posthumously awarded the 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor by President George W. Bush.

The contamination in the air at the World Trade Center site caused many rescue personnel to become extremely ill and eventually led to the death of several rescue workers.

On May 1st, 2011 members of the United States military conducted a raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and killed Osama bin Laden.

Please click here to visit the memorials of all of the law enforcement officers killed in this terrorist attack.


  • Age 51
  • Tour 23 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause 9/11 related illness
  • Incident Date Tuesday, September 11, 2001
  • Weapon Aircraft; Passenger jet
  • Offender 19 suicide attackers

Most Recent Reflection

View all 2 Reflections

So many of our Sisters and Brothers are posted here who passed due to 9/11 related illnesses. I can only speak for myself when I say, I can't leave a reflection for all, there are just too many. How I pick those for whom I leave something is something I do not know. I'm heart broken every time I do though, just like everyone else who does. Another member of the family has passed away for the most despicable reasons.
We just respond.

Yet, though the root cause of the death is despicable, the actions taken and the mere presence of that family member is what this family is all about; putting oneself above others. Those who lose their lives by doing so are not merely someone doing the job, but absolute heroes that we should emulate and admire for their sacrifice.

Detective Cavitolo, you are the epitome of hero. The fact that your life was taken is not what makes you that, it's your willingness to RISK that life that makes you one. It's tragic, infuriating and depressing that you DID give your life, but that's what comes with the job.

God Bless you and all whom you leave behind. If they keep you in their hearts and minds, you'll never truly be gone from them as you forever Rest in Peace.

Ptl. Jim Leahy, Jr.
Harvard University Police Dept.

April 16, 2018

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