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NYPD Officers' Widows Urge Patrol Board To Keep Their Husbands' Killers Behind Bars

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The widows of NYPD officers killed by parolees gathered Tuesday at the headquarters of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

As CBS2's Reena Roy reports, they're upset over the possibility their husbands' killers may be set free.

"My husband, Tommy, was a funny, bright and beautiful man," said Mary Beth Ruotolo-O'Neill, whose husband was gunned down on the job back in 1984. His killer will be eligible for parole in a few years.

Linda Sledge's husband, Officer Cecil Sledge, was run over by a car, dragged and killed in the 1980s. Next month, the man behind his death could be free, as well.

Officials say both officers' killers were already out on parole at the time of their deaths.

"It is difficult for me to even imagine how any right thinking person could consider for a second letting Sal Vasano back onto our streets," said Sledge.

PBA President Patrick Lynch said the New York State Parole Board needs to be tougher on those who commit the same crime. He wants to see them get life without parole.

"We're asking you to support the police officers, support these families," he said.

In April, convicted cop killer Herman Bell was released on parole after the board decided his debt had been paid to society. He spent more than four decades in prison for ambushing, shooting and killing two police officers.

"We made a promise that we will help these families get justice. That promise was broken," said Lynch. "It was broken in the State Legislature, it was broken on the parole board. Shame on them."

The parole board's website says it determines release based on inmate interviews, official summary reports and victim impact statements.

Lynch said there are currently 59 cop killers behind bars who are or will be eligible for parole.

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