Remembered as a man who had the chance to retire and didn't for the sake of his family, West Babylon's Peter Figoski was honored as a dedicated New York police officer and family man at a funeral service Monday.
The 22-year beat cop turned down a desk job, preferring instead to patrol the gritty streets of the 75th precinct. It was in the Brooklyn precinct where Figoski was killed last week, shot by a career criminal during a break-in investigation.
The scene in Babylon Village was one of sadness: a sea of uniformed NYPD officers flanked North Carll Avenue and although thousands of mourners were present, the streets were eerily silent.
With Deer Park Avenue and Park Avenue partially closed off, scores of NYPD, Suffolk County and Nassau County police officers made their way through residential streets to St. Joseph's. Helicopters droned overhead and large flags at half-mast rimmed the perimeter of village. The high school was closed for the day and served as an indoor headquarters for the many officers present. The fire department opened its main house to provide coffee and breakfast and the Hibernian Hall played host to members of the 75th Precinct attending the sad occasion.
Many police officers spoke about the lifetime bond they share with colleagues who chose the same career path and all its attendant dangers and risk.
As Vinny O'Shaughnessy, from West Babylon, explained: "Being a cop for 28 years meant 'I knew him' in spirit."
NYPD members stood eight to nine deep along the funeral procession route. Many spectators wiped away tears as Figoski's family and friends entered the church. A phalanx of local and national media were on the scene, and the funeral service was broadcast over loudspeakers on the street, where many stopped to listen and remember the fallen officer.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly gave eulogies about the slain father of four. Noting that Figoski leaves behind four daughters, Christine, Caitlin, Carolyn, and Corrine, ages 20 through 14—Kelly remembered him as a force to be reckoned with.
"Between his partner Estrada, a marathon runner, and Pete, who could outrun guys half his age, suspects didn't stand a chance," said Kelly, who also noted Figoski's over 200 career arrests.
"Knowing your father was a hero doesn't make this any easier for you," Bloomberg said in his eulogy, before making a promise to Figoski family.
"The 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."
A scholarship fund has been set up for the daughter by the New York City Police Foundation.