The plaque for NYPD officers who died as a result of the September 11 attack is quickly running out of space.
During an annual memorial ceremony at NYPD headquarters Friday, 34 additional names of active and retired officers were added to the Hall of Heroes memorial wall, nearly all of them having died in recent years from illnesses ascribed to their recovery work at Ground Zero and vicinity.
The exception was the name of Det. Paul J. Tuozzolo, of Huntington who was shot dead in the Bronx in November 2016 and whose name was added to an adjacent plaque reserved for those killed in action.
“This is the most we have had in any given year, and it is too many,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill told the solemn crowd of family members, officials and reporters. “Even one would be too many. Every name here is a precious life. Every name is a person who loved and was loved by his or her family, their friends and their brothers and sisters in blue.”
The 9/11 honor plaque, installed after September 11, has room for 160 names and now has space only for six more. Given increases in certain cancers seen in officers and police officials who worked at Ground Zero, as well as the Staten Island landfill, space is likely to run out before next year’s ceremony, said an NYPD spokesman, deputy chief Timothy Trainor. Those names on the wall include the 21 NYPD officers who were killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center.
During the ceremony, O’Neill noted that those who died included an assistant deputy commissioner, a chief, as well as captains, sergeants, detectives and police officers.
“Every name is a person who cared deeply about our great city,” he added.
As each name was read aloud, violinists Lt. Timothy Hagan and Deputy Inspector Robert Haley from the police marching band played some of Mozart’s sacred music from “Ave Verum Corpus.”
The new names on the 9/11 honor plaque were revealed as O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio used cords to pull up a blue and black drape. More than 800 names of cops killed in action since the 19th century line other plaques.
With so few spaces left on the plaque, the NYPD is looking what can be done to find more space in the Hall of Heroes lobby, said Trainor. One possible solution might be to see if a brick artwork on the wall to the left of the plaque can be safely removed and relocated, while there is also the possibility of relocating a large bronze statue of a police officer which graces the lobby, he said.