Fallen Nassau police officer Arthur Lopez’s photograph still hangs in the Emergency Services Unit in Bellmore where he worked, his uniform still inside his locker.
Lopez, fatally shot in the line of duty in 2012, remains a strong presence in his unit — the veteran cops recall their colleague’s zest for the job through stories, giving the rookies someone to emulate.
Det. Keith Blum, Lopez’s partner of four years in ESU and Sgt. Vincent Papa, Lopez’s supervisor, on Tuesday recalled their slain brother with smiles as the police department paid tribute to those killed on the job at the Nassau Police Memorial at headquarters in Mineola.
“It lets us remember everybody who passed and made the supreme sacrifice for us; especially with Artie, it touches us,” said Blum, now of the Second Squad. “It makes us remember all the good times we spent, all the rescues we were on, the kind of good guy he was — always smiling, always happy. He made work fun every day, no matter how bad a day and what you see, he always made you smile.”
The somber, two-hour ceremony on the lawn of police headquarters began with the singing of the national anthem, and included the reading of the names of 34 Nassau police officers killed in the line of duty since the force was organized in 1925. The names of other officers who have died since 2015 were also recited.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said the memorial service “reaffirms our commitment that we will never forget their sacrifice.”
“I’m very proud of this police department because they remember each and every day — not just today.” said Mangano, reading from prepared remarks. “We remember the sacrifice and we recall the bravery that it takes to serve in our great police force and the dangers involved in that job.”
The ceremony also included the placement of floral tributes at the Nassau Police Memorial — a piece of bedrock adorned with a plaque — which was first dedicated on May 12, 1982, said Chief of Department Steven Skrynecki.
The memorial has grown to incorporate the original rock at the center of six tall slabs of black concrete, affixed with bronze facial etchings of the fallen officers.
The Nassau County Police Emerald Society Bagpipe Band played and Nassau police helicopters did a flyover in tribute.
Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, also reading from prepared remarks, told the families that “while no speech, flag or ceremony can bring back your loved ones, please know that their sacrifices will continue to guide and inspire the members of the Nassau County Police Department.”
Papa, Lopez’s supervisor, said that promise lives in ESU. “Everyday when we go in that locker room and put on our uniform, we think of Artie,” said Papa.
Lopez was fatally shot on Oct. 23, 2012, by Darrell Fuller during a car stop on the Nassau-Queens border. Fuller was convicted at trial and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Mangano also gave a shout-out to Krumpter from the dais for his participation in the Unity Tour, a four-day, 300-mile bike trek from Manhattan to the Nation Police Memorial in Washington, D.C. to raise money for the memorial.
Afterward, Krumpter, who biked the tour for the first time last week, said he planned to do it again and proclaimed it “one of the best things I’ve ever done.”