This week the office of Joe Robach announced that state officials honored 27 fallen law enforcement officers from agencies across New York State, including officers who died last year from injuries sustained in the line of duty, officers who died from Ground Zero-related illnesses, and historical deaths.
The names of the 27 officers honored today have been inscribed on the Police Officers’ Memorial located on the Empire State Plaza in Albany. They join 1,360 others represented on the memorial from 141 police agencies across the state and five federal law enforcement agencies.
The officers honored paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their communities and their state. In press released by his office, Joe Robach said “These individuals personified bravery and selflessness, putting the safety of their communities before their own lives.”
The fallen heroes were remembered Tuesday at a remembrance ceremony where state officials joined more than 400 guests, including local, state and federal law enforcement professionals, other elected officials, and family members, colleagues and friends of the officers.
The names of fallen officers are placed randomly and without rank on the memorial’s walls to signify that every officer’s sacrifice is the same. This concept was suggested by Colleen Dillon Bergman, the daughter of Trooper Emerson J. Dillon, Jr., who was killed in the line of duty in 1974 after more than 16 years of service. Following her father’s death, Ms. Bergman wrote a letter to the Police Officers’ Memorial Advisory Committee, which oversees the memorial, writing, “It doesn’t matter from which department they came, the feeling of loss is experienced the same.” That sentence is now etched on the memorial’s nameplate, which was dedicated in 1991.
2014 Line of Duty Deaths
Eight officers died last year from injuries they incurred while in the line of duty:
• Detective Dennis E. Guerra of the New York City Police Department died from complications from smoke inhalation after responding to a fire in a Coney Island public housing development (April 9).
• Detective WenJian Liu and Detective Rafael Ramos of the New York City Police Department died after being shot without warning or provocation while they sat in their marked Critical Response Vehicle in a Brooklyn neighborhood (Dec. 20).
• Detective Douglas H. Mayville of the Albany Police Department died from Wegener’s Granulomatosis developed after inhaling toxic chemicals and materials while performing his duties at the Forensic Investigations Unit from 1982 through 1997 (April 9).
• Police Officer Daryl Pierson of the Rochester Police Department died after being shot and killed by a suspect he was pursuing on foot (Sept. 3).
• Trooper Christopher Skinner of the New York State Police (Troop C) was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while conducting a traffic stop on I-81 in Broome County (May 29).
• Police Officer David W. Smith of the Johnson City Police Department died after being ambushed and shot responding to a disturbance call at a local business (March 31).
• Police Officer Michael C. Williams of the New York City Police Department died of injuries suffered from a motor vehicle accident involving a marked department van that crashed into a highway divider while on patrol in the Bronx (Sept. 21).
Ground Zero-Related Illness
Officers who died from illnesses resulting from search and recovery efforts in the wake of the September 11, 2011 terrorist attack in New York City have been honored on the memorial since 2008. The names on the memorial now total 85, including the 14 added today:
• Detective Angel A. Creagh, New York City Police Department (Jan. 14, 2014)
• Police Officer Anthony DeJesus, New York City Police Department (May 24, 2013)
• Sergeant Paul M. Ferrara, New York City Police Department (Aug. 28, 2014)
• Police Officer Nicholas G. Finelli, New York City Police Department (June 8, 2013)
• Detective Michael R. Henry, New York City Police Department (Nov. 28, 2013)
• Detective Steven Hom, New York City Police Department (Oct. 19, 2013)
• Detective John J. Marshall, New York City Police Department (April 6, 2014)
• Detective Robert A. Montanez, New York City Police Department (March 16, 2014)
• Sergeant Donald J. O’Leary Jr., New York City Police Department (March 26, 2014)
• Police Officer Allison M. Palmer, New York City Police Department (July 28, 2008)
• Captain Ronald G. Peifer Sr., New York City Police Department (March 5, 2014)
• Detective Christopher Strucker, New York City Police Department (Jan. 3, 2014)
• Detective William B. Titus Jr., New York City Police Department (Aug. 24, 2003)
• Police Officer Perry T. Villani, New York City Police Department (Jan. 21, 2014)
The office of Joe Robach noted that to be included on the memorial, an individual must have held the position of police officer as defined in the state’s Criminal Procedure Law or have held the position of federal law enforcement officer and performed the same or similar duties as those performed by a police officer as defined in that section.