New York State Funeral Directors Association

New York State Memorial Honors Fallen Police Officers

Game Protector Samuel S. Taylor was felled by gunfire a century ago while trying to arrest poachers. A gunshot put Buffalo Police Officer Patricia A. Parete in a coma for several years until she died in 2013.

State Trooper David W. Cunniff was working the State Thruway when he was struck by a tractor trailer, and Trooper Winston I. Martindale Jr. was rescuing plane crash victims when he suffered a fatal injury.

These and 16 more of New York’s bravest civil servants were honored during a ceremony at the New York State Capitol.

Their names, along with those of more than 1,300 other police officers, are now etched into the state's 100 foot-long, polished black granite Police Officers Memorial.

Thirteen of the year 2014’s additions to the wall of honor died as a result of illness they contracted after responding to the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001.

More than 200 citizens, police and fallen officers’ family members gathered to pay their respects at Empire State Plaza on Tuesday, May 6.

The fragrance of spring blooms filled the air during remarks from several state officials at the ceremony that included Taps played from a bugle, the distinctive sound of bagpipes and a gunfire salute.

“Ceremonies cannot repair the pain,” said Lt. Governor Robert J. Duffy, a former police officer who served as Rochester Police Chief from 1998 to 2005.

Duffy, one of several who spoke during the ceremony, said the 20 new names represent “twenty families who have been ripped apart.”

He urged visitors to take a look at the names etched on the shiny black monolith.

“These aren’t just names, they’re people with families,” Duffy said.

A total of 1,360 police officers killed in the line of duty are now memorialized on the State of New York Police Officers Memorial.

State Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos addressed dozens of wives, husbands, children, friends and relatives of fallen officers.

“Today we want to assure you your loved-ones will never be forgotten,” Skelos said.

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver offered gratitude for the “valor and devotion” police extend to their communities.

He said the state's memorial was built to ensure their sacrifice “will remain in the hearts of people forever.”

“More often than not, we take our police officers for granted,” Silver said.

The names engraved on the memorial represent officers from 140 different police agencies statewide and five federal agencies.

In addition to the 13 officers from the NYPD, those added to the memorial in 2014 represent the New York State Police, the City of Buffalo Police Department, the state Department of Environmental Conservation Police, the City of Peekskill Police Department and the Yates County Sheriff’s Office.

The bulk of the list – 740 names – represent members of the New York City Police Department.

“We are all in debt to them for their sacrifice,” State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said during the ceremony.

According to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, the memorial was proposed in 1989 and designed based on a concept provided by Colleen Dillon Bergman.

Bergman’s father, State Trooper Emerson J. Dillon Jr., was killed in the line of duty in 1974.

Colleen Bergman’s words, written in her design proposal, are also etched into the wall: “It doesn’t matter from which department they came, the feeling of loss is experienced the same.”

States throughout the country hold fallen officer memorials and the nation will honor a new slate of fallen officers May 13.

A candlelight vigil is planned for the addition of 286 names to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. – a monument now carrying the names of more than 20,000 who died protecting their communities.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty every 58 hours.

View photos captured during the 2014 ceremony.

View a video of the 2014 ceremony.

EdsPhotoEdward Munger Jr.
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association