A 20-year decorated veteran of the NYPD celebrated Independence Day a little early by retiring — and giving the department the finger.
Thomas J. Gambardella, 41, of Staten Island, posted a photo on Facebook of himself flipping the bird at a memorial to fallen officers inside NYPD headquarters, while wearing a T-shirt reading “Let’s Go Brandon,” following his official retirement from the force two weeks ago.
“I’m officially retired today!” he wrote in a post at the time. “From this sorry excuse of a s–t job. Thank God, I’m free at last!… I loved everyone I worked with and ‘some’ of the people I’ve worked for. But this job is no one’s friend. Time to live free. I’ll see you all out there!”
Gambardella, who was most recently a detective sergeant, told The Post on Saturday that he loved his job when he started out — but the gig turned “s–t” due to the city’s increasingly soft-on-crime policies.
“I was a true believer,” Gambardella, who comes from a police family, said of his early years on the beat. “I wasn’t a bag of s–t. I worked some intricate details. I gave a lot of my blood, sweat and tears. But no more.”
A combination of increasingly liberal policies and what he said was the NYPD’s stranglehold over every aspect of his life led him to sour on the job.
“It’s the worst f–king job in the world,” Gambardella said. “They own you. They’re not your friends. All that talk about the ‘big blue family.’ They don’t care. If I die tomorrow they wouldn’t give a sh-t. If I needed something it ain’t gonna happen. I’m better off just saying a prayer.”
The potty-mouthed former officer said he was disgusted by the increased hostility toward police, calls to defund the NYPD and crackdowns on what cops could or could not do.
“Crime is soaring and cops are leaving in droves,” Gambardella said. “Anybody can see that. All this liberalism is obviously a failure. But this is what they wanted. It’s a stupid experiment and it’s the people who will pay in the end.”
Gambardella said he has gotten some backlash to his posts and photos, though not much.
The statue he took aim at depicts a police officer watching over the child of a slain cop — and several current and retired NYPD detectives said they were stung and angered by seeing the photo of Gambardella giving it the finger in One Police Plaza.
One retired detective said that officers will often buy miniature versions of the statue with for families of slain cops with the hero’s shield number on it.
“I have a disease,” Gambardella said. “It’s called diarrhea of the mouth. People who know me know I’m like this. I don’t cower down.”
Gambardella, who is divorced with three kids, said cops were treated well under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former police commissioner Ray Kelly, and that the public was better off with them, too.
“The minute they stopped the quality of life enforcement that was the beginning of the end,” he said. “Just having people know they could get a response from a noise complaint was a big deal. But that’s all long gone.”
Gambardella, who said he was named Officer of the Year in 2006 when he worked in the 68th precinct in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, joined the force in July 2002. He was most recently in the detective squad at the 70th precinct in Kensington.
According to city records, he made $164,000 last year.
More than 2,119 NYPD officers have either resigned or retired so far this year – on pace to be the biggest exodus of officers since the statistics have been available.
Some 524 cops have resigned and 1,072 have retired as of May 31, NYPD pension stats obtained by The Post last month showed. In June alone, 523 officers left, with 400 retiring and 123 resigning, the most resignations in a single month in at least a decade.
Of the 2,119 who are leaving, 1,472 are retiring and 647 are resigning, a 38% spike over the previous record of 1,535 for the first six months of 2020, the attrition numbers show.
Gambardella had 14 complaints lodged against him, according to records which show he was exonerated in four while six were deemed “unsubstantiated” and one “unfounded.” None appeared to result in disciplinary action.
“The majority of officers who are retire are proud of their careers and their service with the NYPD,” a high-ranking police source told The Post when asked about Gambardella.