Throughout his career as a police officer, Wayne Resnick has been recognized for his bravery and for his big heart.
Resnick, 52, of North Merrick, is a 28-year veteran of Nassau law enforcement. He was a civilian 911 dispatcher, and then a corrections officer, before becoming a patrol officer in the Nassau County Police Department’s 4th Precinct 16 years ago.
Resnick been honored for his work in uniform in the past — he helped deliver a baby in an elevator in 2017 — and the Merrick community also knows him as the officer who, with his wife, Patricia, opened his home to four orphaned children from Kazakhstan.
With many years of service behind him, Resnick is now facing his toughest battle yet — one against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Resnick was diagnosed last April, but continued to show up for work until the disease rapidly progressed in July.
The County Legislature and the 4th Precinct honored Resnick as their Top Cop in December.
“Officer Resnick has shown a remarkable amount of courage and bravery just by facing this terrible disease and continuing on with his job,” Legislator Denise Ford said. “The courage that Resnick and his family have displayed since his diagnosis is a testament to his character and is an inspiration to all. He is not only our Top Cop for December 2022, but also for the entire year of 2022.”
Despite what some may think, Resnick said he hasn’t retired just yet. He remains at home on sick leave with Patricia and their five children, Daniel, Benjamin, Nadya, James and Anya, until he receives his disability benefits.
The onset of ALS is typically a gradual process, but Resnick’s life has changed drastically in the months since his diagnosis. The symptoms first appeared at the end of 2021: He was dropping his keys and had trouble swallowing liquids. At one point, he had bouts of uncontrollable laughter in front of his partner at the 4th Precinct, Officer John Paterson. Resnick would later learn the laughter was caused by the pseudobulbar affect, a neurological condition characterized by outbursts of laughing or crying.
Last March, Resnick fell just before leaving the station to answer a call. He underwent a CT scan and saw a neurologist immediately afterward.
He and his wife knew about ALS, but they had never known anyone who had it. “It’s very hard diagnosis when you hear it,” Patricia said. “They don’t sugarcoat it — the doctor doesn’t sugarcoat it at all. They’ll tell you, it’s 100 percent fatal and it’s a rough way to go out.”
When Wayne saw that his mobility was rapidly diminishing, he knew he couldn’t work at his desk much longer. His last day at the station was at the end of July, and by then he was using a cane.
Despite his circumstances, Resnick is well known for making the best of a bad situation. Reflecting on the beginning of his career, he joked that his wife, a 911 dispatcher, was never too far from him.
“I’d be at home and she’d tell me what to do,” he said with a smile. “I’d be at work and she’d tell me what to do, so I never had a break.”
When he started using a wheelchair full-time in September, his friends and family knew that the family’s house would need modifications. Officers Bryan and Billy Kohlmier and Anthony Barberi spent an entire day fitting the Resnick home with wheelchair ramps.
“When you keep thinking things are so bad, seeing how much everyone cares helps you get through each day,” Resnick said.
These days he spends most of his time at home with his family, partly because of the cold weather and partly because of the challenges of transportation. Trips are rare, but the police union and Paterson are working with ALS Ride for Life, an organization that supports patients and families, to change that.
“In the police world, we try to help wherever we can,” Paterson said. “But sometimes we don’t have all the resources.”
To learn more about Resnick’s fight, and how you can help him and his family, go to TinyURL.com/WaynesWarriors.