A long blue line of an estimated 10,000 police officers lined up in Long Island this morning for the funeral of slain Officer Peter Figoski, who was fatally shot in the line of duty early last Monday. At the St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Babylon, LI, friends, family and officials mourned the 22-year NYPD veteran and father of four. "We will forever remember the memories with our dad and our loving family," a friend of Figoski's read on behalf of his daughters. "Our father would be so honored and so proud by all of this, and is forever in our hearts. It is said when a hero falls an angel rises. Rest in peace Daddy."
At the service Figoski, 47, was remembered as a hard working and dedicated officer with a smile always on his face ("Always," Officer Brenda Ramos reiterated. "I'm sure he had bad days, but we never knew about those bad days.") who always put his children first.
"You have touched the lives of so many," Figoski's ex-wife said in a statement read by a family friend. "God bless you, Peter. May you hold my father's hand in heaven and watch over our children. I promise to do my best to take care of them always."
Both Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly spoke at today's ceremony. Here's Bloomberg's eulogy:
Maryanne, Frank, Robert, James, Paulette, Christine, Caitlyn, Caroline, Corinne; members of the NYPD - including Pete’s friend and partner, the brave Officer Glenn Estrada: my heart goes out to you all.
Coming into church this morning, I hope you were as uplifted as I was by the sea of blue uniforms stretching down the block. I think all the attention and respect speaks volumes about how much Pete meant to the NYPD, meant to New York City and meant to this community.
It’s ironic, of course, because Pete never looked for this kind of attention. This was a man whose heroism was overshadowed only by his humbleness. Now, as a 22-year veteran of one of the busiest precincts in the city, Pete had every reason to have a big ego.
As a large, strong guy with fists like clubs, Pete had all the ability to throw his weight around. But that wasn’t who he was. No. This was a guy who was patient and caring and dedicated to his duty - a team player through and through.
The kind of guy who would never just walk past a rookie officer stuck with paperwork, but help him finish the job. Who’d help a custodian unload a bag of garbage - as quickly as he’d help a chief fetch something from his car. Who’d always have a smile on his face that reminded you, even during the toughest moments, that all’s ok with the world. Strong. Dependable. Solid as a rock.
Pete had the knowledge and know-how that came only from being on the job 22 years. He knew the 7-5 like the back of his hand. And it was this familiarity which led him and Glenn to check in on a 24-hour Laundromat last summer, where they found an armed robbery in progress.
They were able to apprehend both suspects without any injuries - and without a single shot fired. It was good, solid police work - the trademark of Pete’s career - and a big reason why our city today is safer than it’s been in modern memory.
And you’ve just got to admire Pete’s dedication.
When he transferred inside to a desk job that provided better hours, it was only a matter of months before he angled his way back on patrol, where he knew he’d make a bigger difference. And when his 20 years were up, and he was eligible to retire and collect his pension, Pete continued working - for the love of the job and especially the love of his family.
It’s incomprehensible that someone like Pete, who gave so much to so many, could have his own life taken from him. About the only thing that does make sense is that on Pete’s final run he was called in as back-up - because Pete always had your back.
And not just on the job: if you needed help installing a flat screen or re-doing your deck, he’d be over as soon as his midnight tour ended. And if necessary, he’d help you right up until he had to go back to work. If there was a fundraiser for the family of a colleague who passed away, Pete would go around the precinct and make sure everyone chipped in.
And if you needed a ride somewhere? Well, just ask his girls. Name the time and the place, and Pete would ferry you there in his beat-up Ford minivan - his war horse. Soccer practice. Track meets. Dance classes. Sleepovers. It didn’t matter when or how far. Pete was willing to go the distance for his four girls. And he did.
They were the love of his life. His be-all and end-all.
They were his trusty companions on trips to Tennessee, Myrtle Beach, and Hershey Park - during which they’d be tussling over the radio stations all the way down. There was no separating him from them - even if he had wanted to.
A couple of years ago, he tried to carve out some space for himself by converting the garage into his own den. A ‘man cave,’ his brother Bob called it. Pete put in a couch, installed a TV and a computer, and moved in some of his memorabilia. He had the place all to himself - for about two days, until the girls took it over. I know the feeling; my two daughters have done the same to me.
But that was ok. Pete would do anything for them - including, I’m told, something Caitlyn wishes he hadn’t. All Caitlyn wanted were some highlights. What she got was the crown of her head bleached completely white. Dads are good at a lot of things. But let me tell you: a hair makeover isn’t one of them.
Christine, Caitlyn, Caroline, Corinne: As the father of two daughters, I understand the bonds you shared with your dad - and how much you miss him now.
Knowing your father was a hero doesn’t make these days any easier for you. Knowing your dad was revered in the NYPD doesn’t make his absence less painful. But in so many ways he will always be close by, because you will always remember his love, his advice, his jokes, and his smile.
As I saw firsthand that night at the hospital, you have a family that will support you. And, of course, you can count on a second family - the NYPD.
Our city never forgets its heroes - and as you grow up, finish school, and live out the dreams your father had for you - we will be there for you always.
And at the recommendation of Police Commissioner Kelly, we are promoting Pete to the rank of Detective First Grade - retroactive to one year ago. It’s a small measure of our appreciation for the supreme sacrifice that he made.
May God bless Pete - may his memory be eternal. May God bless all of those he has touched. And may God continue to bless the brave men and women of the NYPD.