Six of the state's law enforcement officers who died last year in the line of duty -- including two from Nassau County killed in a five-day stretch in October -- were remembered for their heroism Saturday as their names were added to a memorial wall in Hicksville.
The wife, children and mother of Nassau Officer Joseph Olivieri, 43, of Middle Island, who was fatally struck by an SUV on Oct. 18 while responding to an accident on the Long Island Expressway, quietly laid flowers at the foot of the wall outside the New York State Fraternal Order of Police headquarters.
They were followed by the parents of Officer Arthur Lopez, 29, of Babylon Village, who was fatally shot on Oct. 23 during a confrontation with an ex-convict near the Nassau-Queens border.
Along with Olivieri and Lopez, the names of four other officers from across the state as well as six more from years past, were etched into the marble black wall.
"This gets tougher and tougher every year," said Charles Caputo, state president of the Fraternal Order of Police, as he held back tears. "I don't understand why a police officer can't just do his time and retire."
Elected officials and law enforcement leaders extolled the virtues of the fallen officers -- and of all men and women who put on the uniform -- during the emotional ceremony, which was held as part of the annual Police Memorial Week. The names of nearly 1,400 of the state's officers -- including 34 from Nassau -- are permanently engraved on the wall.
"Crime is down, but that did not happen by accident," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who addressed the gathering of more than 100. "It's because of the bravery of the men and women who patrol our streets."
Olivieri and Lopez, who was posthumously promoted to detective, were remembered by their colleagues for their fearlessness.
"He was an exceptional police officer," said Greg Holgerson, Lopez's partner in the First Precinct in Baldwin for five years. "There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of him."
Nassau County Police Benevolent Association president James Carver remembered Olivieri as a dedicated family man who kept the roads safe. "He loved this job and everything about it," Carver said.