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NY Crime
City Prepares Two Goodbyes for Fallen Officers
From the Wall Street Journal of Tue, 23 Dec 2014 22:41:07 EST
A neighbor leaves flowers outside the home of slain New York City Police Officer Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn.
A neighbor leaves flowers outside the home of slain New York City Police Officer Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn. Peter Foley for The Wall Street Journal

The house next door glows: The porch is outlined in white lights. There is a reindeer—and a snowman, too.

The home where Officer Rafael Ramos lived has an American flag out front. A simple wreath hangs on the door.

Outside the home that Officer Wenjian Liu shared with his new wife, candles and fresh flowers come together to form a makeshift memorial.

The scenes in Brooklyn late on the day before Christmas Eve were a stark reminder that the Ramos and Liu families will mark one of the most joyous times of the year without their loved ones.

The New York Police Department is preparing to bid farewell to two of their own, ambushed in their patrol car in broad daylight by a lone gunman.

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the scene of Saturday’s shootings and later led city staffers in a moment of silence to remember Officers Ramos and Liu.

The mayor also ordered all municipal buildings and city landmarks to dim their lights for five minutes at 9 p.m. in honor of the officers.

When dusk fell, a warm glow emanated from the first-floor windows at the Ramos home.

Visitors came with trays of food, greeted at the door with long embraces.

A patrol car was parked out front. Two officers were stationed at the front gate.

One of those bringing food was Diana Muñiz, a relative.

“They’re mourning,” she said as she departed a few minutes later. “They’re mourning and they’re hurting. They don’t deserve this.”

At Officer Liu’s home, a patrol car was parked in the driveway and an officer also kept watch.

To neighbor Michael Shimon, Officer Liu was always friendly.

“He was, like, a family guy. He was really a family man,” Mr. Shimon said.

“He didn’t throw around the fact that he was a cop. He was always extremely respectful.”

Officer Liu’s widow thanked her neighbors, friends, all New Yorkers and the NYPD for their support and condolences.

“This is a difficult time for both of our families, but we will stand together and get through this together,” Pei Xia Chen said through tears Monday night.

A funeral for Officer Ramos is set for Saturday at Christ Tabernacle Church in Glendale, Queens.

Arrangements for Mr. Liu won’t be scheduled until family members are cleared to fly from China. The officer moved to the U.S. 20 years ago.

Mr. de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, visited a makeshift memorial early Tuesday near the Brooklyn intersection where the officers were shot.

The mayor and Ms. McCray added a bouquet to a cluster of other flowers and candles.

At 2:47 p.m., the mayor was joined by dozens of staff members for a moment of silence, marking the time when the officers were shot.

The officers had been keeping watch over a Brooklyn housing project that has been plagued by violence.

“Every police officer is hurting right now, and the family of every police officer is hurting right now. We have to be there for them,” Mr. de Blasio said.

“The NYPD has a rich, strong history of supporting families in their hour of need, and never letting go,” he said.

“Their children will always know support they will no longer know from their fathers who have fallen.”

The NYPD has a process for supporting families of officers killed in the line of duty.

After Officers Liu and Ramos died, two supervisors from the department’s employee relations unit and a chaplain arrived at each officer’s home to notify their families.

“Employee relations is there with them, arm in arm, every step of the way,” said Lt. Tony Giorgio, commanding officer of the department’s ceremonial unit.

Inspector Thomas Burns, the commanding officer of the employee relations unit, which has 23 members throughout the five boroughs, said typically discussions move to funeral arrangements.

At that point, the ceremonial unit works with the family on the logistics and chaplains help prepare the services.

The detectives bureau will be called if a family wants to know details of a death, and the department’s chief surgeon is available to explain procedures used in an attempt to save an officer’s life.

“We try to explain the circumstances of the death so they don’t read it in the paper,” said Deputy Commissioner Cathleen Perez, who heads the NYPD’s Administration Bureau.

Lt. Giorgio said the department aims to slowly aid next-of-kin through the grieving process while also ensuring families are made aware of benefits that they are entitled to.

“We embrace the family with our arms around them,” Lt. Giorgio said.

Write to Pervaiz Shallwani at pervaiz.shallwani@wsj.com



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