Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. I want to tell you the officers and the units that we honor today, we celebrate today, I’m so proud to be in your presence because you represent something extraordinary. The city today will learn your stories and will recognize just how great each and every one of you are. And it’s going to be a beacon of hope in a very tough time to know that such good men and women are serving us, protecting us, doing absolutely extraordinary things when people need it most. At the graduation ceremonies, Commissioner Shea often talks about the moment you meet someone, might be the most important moment of their life. To you, it may be just another day on the job, but to them, it’s the moment you saved their life, or you saved a loved one’s life. You stopped a tragedy. You kept a family whole for the rest of time. We honor you for things that you do that very few people could possibly do. Today is a day that gives us a special pride, because it reminds us what one good person is capable of doing for their fellow New Yorker, their fellow human being, that one person can rise up to a level most people would find unimaginable.
Last couple of years, we’ve all been put through so much. It’s been so difficult, so shocking. This is probably the greatest crisis this city’s ever gone through dealing with a global pandemic and the toll it has taken – 34,000 of our fellow New Yorkers gone. And this shock, this pain has come home to this noble department, too – 63 members of this department, 63 officers and civilians lost to COVID. And each and every one of them, a painful, horrible loss for their family, but a loss to all of us because of what they did for all of us. We will remember them and stand by their families and do everything we can to support them and protect them. We will do everything we can to stop this scourge from taking even a single additional life of an NYPD officer.
And today, we also remember those who did so much for their city and their fellow officers and succumbed to 9/11-related illnesses. Just in the last two years, 66 lost. Every person we lost, every noble servant of the people, every hero, we must remember, but we also have to be there for the families. And this is something this department does that I find so noble, the constant, entire devotion to the families that never ends. So, I want to ask everyone here, the family members with us, we need to honor them. The family members who have lost their loved ones, who we need to always hold close and support. For everyone who’s not one of those family members, please join me, please rise, and salute and applaud the family members of those we have lost.
Thank you. Everyone in this city sees the heroism, and so many are moved deeply. And just this week at the graduation, we saw the new young, fresh faces joining this department. And we know they’re inspired by you. We know they’re inspired by the heroism of everyone we honored today. We know they’re inspired by the painful sacrifice of those we’ve lost. We know people come forward every day and make the choice to do this work because they believe in how important it is. Your heroism is being felt in ways beyond anything you can imagine. And I just want to tell you in a time where people need hope, in time when people are struggling to find a way forward, you are those givers of hope. You remind us how good people can be. For that, I want to say to every one of the medal recipients, God bless you for your extraordinary acts. And to every member of the NYPD, thank you for what you do every day. God bless you. God bless the NYPD. God bless this city. Thank you.
Sergeant Kevin Heavey, NYPD: Thank you, Mayor de Blasio. It’s now my pleasure to introduce the Police Commissioner of the City of New York, the Honorable Dermot Shea.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Police Academy. Mayor de Blasio, on behalf of the leadership team assembled here, thank you for your remarks and for being here this morning. And to our honorees, as well as the families, friends, and colleagues here to participate in this ceremony, welcome. This is one of the most significant days of the year for our department. Today, we honor heroes who gave their lives for this city. And we also recognize those whose remarkable bravery, instincts, and skill carry them through situations that most people cannot even imagine. But, fortunately, for the millions of New Yorkers who rely on them, our medal recipients, you are not most people. You are among the finest law enforcement officers in the world, and you continue to prove over and over again that you’re the best at what you do.
You have to be the best because each day, lives depend on it – the lives of your fellow cops, the lives of New Yorkers, the people that you’re sworn to protect. That alone is a significant, solemn responsibility, and one that every officer faces just by coming to work. Remember that you are the most professional, the most effective policing in the entire country. You go toward the danger, and you never know what you’re going to find when you get there. In an instant, what starts out as a normal shift, another routine day can change that quick. So, you find yourself wondering when that day comes, when that call comes over the radio, how will you respond? I think we’ve all done that at one point. And now it’s true that some police officers can work their entire careers – and hopefully that’s the case – where they don’t have to answer that question, but others like today’s recipients did face that question and you answered it with confidence, and you answered it with courage.
When that day came for you, you rose to the occasion with heroism and with resolve. You made us all proud, but you didn’t do it for the praise or the recognition. And you certainly didn’t do it for medals. You did it because that’s who you are, you’re NYPD cops, and there’s no reward that you can have greater pride in than that simple fact. So, to all our medal recipients today and your families, congratulations. Thank you for everything that you do for the people of this great city. And to the loved ones who have made the ultimate sacrifice, thank you for being here. You will always be among the most respected and revered members of our family. I am so privileged to stand here today as your Police Commissioner, all of you, with the Mayor, with our colleagues and friends, to honor you all. We are so proud of the work that you do, and we are proud to count you among our ranks among the many, many heroes that have come before you. Thank you, and God bless you all.