It’s only been six months since NYPD Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo was killed while on duty, but the idea that his memory could fade already haunts his widow.
“For me, my biggest fear is that my husband’s legacy and sacrifice will be forgotten,” Lisa Tuozzolo of Greenlawn said Saturday at the Fraternal Order of Police state lodge in Hicksville. “It’s events like today that humble me and comfort me.”
In an emotional ceremony, police officials gathered to remember 80 of their fallen colleagues from across the state, including dozens who died from 9/11-related injuries and cancers.
Dozens of family members attended, eager to see the names of loved ones engraved on a granite memorial wall. The event is held annually to recognize officers who died in the line of duty while serving in the NYPD, State Police and other branches of law enforcement.
“This is one of the most important ceremonies in our profession,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said. “The business of policing is one of great danger and, unfortunately, great sacrifice.”
Four of the officers honored died in 2016, one from 9/11-related cancer and three while on duty, including Tuozzolo, 41, who was shot Nov. 4 while responding to a break-in in the Bronx.
Also added to the memorial: State Police Trooper Timothy Pratt, who died Oct. 26 after being struck by a car in Saratoga County; State Police Investigator Paul Stuewer, who died Oct. 5 from 9/11-related cancer; and Sgt. Kerry Winters of the Ulster County sheriff’s office, who died Sept. 22 during a water training exercise.
“Each year, we pray this will be the last that names will be added to the wall,” said Marge Dwyer, an Elmont resident and president of the Deceased Officers Parents Association. Dwyer’s son, NYPD Officer Anthony Dwyer, was killed in the line of duty in 1989.
Some placed flowers at the wall. Others, happy to see loved ones’ names engraved among more than 1,400 names, used pencil and paper to shade over the engraving and create a keepsake.
“It’s bittersweet, my heart is broken,” Lisa Tuozzolo said afterward. “But what’s most important is the communities and the nation remember the sacrifice that not only my husband made, but all law enforcement officers make.”