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Slain NYPD cops Peter J. Figoski and Alain Schaberger receive Medal of Honor

Caitlyn Figoski is hugged by members of the

Caitlyn Figoski is hugged by members of the 75th Precinct, where her late father had worked, following a ceremony at One Police Plaza in Manhattan where NYPD Det. Peter Figoski was posthumously given the department's Medal of Honor. (June 12, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Craig Ruttle

The rain held off just long enough Tuesday as the NYPD, in a poignant outdoor Medal Day ceremony, posthumously honored two officers killed in action last year and their Long Island families.

More than a dozen other officers who died from illnesses from work at Ground Zero after 9/11 were also honored.

Hundreds of officers and dignitaries, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, stood and applauded as the families of Det. Peter J. Figoski and Officer Alain Schaberger received the Medal of Honor, the department's highest award, on their behalf. Figoski was shot dead last December while he was attempting to break up a robbery in Brooklyn. Schaberger was killed in March 2011 when a suspect in a domestic violence case in Brooklyn pushed him over a stairway railing.

Figoski's father, Frank, of Babylon, and Schaberger's mother, May, of East Islip, accepted the gold-cast, eight-point, star-shaped medals from Bloomberg, as Kelly looked on.

The audience also stood and applauded as Figoski's partner, Glenn Estrada of the 75th Precinct, was bestowed one of the 14 Medal for Valor awards.

Estrada was credited with running down and capturing Lamont Pride, the Brooklyn man who is awaiting trial in Figoski's murder.

Estrada seemed surprised by the adulation he received and smiled to acknowledge the applause. Then, as he turned to return to his seat, Estrada shook hands with Frank Figoski, who was accompanied by his wife, Maryann, and his late son's four daughters and other relatives.

"It is a great honor for my father to receive the medal on behalf of my brother," said Figoski's older brother Robert. "He loved the NYPD."

"It is a very nice day. We were very proud of my brother," said an emotional Figoski.

The department also awarded nine Police Combat Cross medals to current and retired officers who engaged in gunfights with armed suspects.

Thirteen Distinguished Service Medals were given to the families of officers who contracted illnesses while doing work at Ground Zero and died between June 2004 and July 2011. Among them was Det. Kevin Czartoryski, of Queens, who worked in the NYPD press office.

Unit citations were given to 12 police commands, including the Intelligence Division for its work last year leading to the arrests of three suspects in terrorism plots against the city.

Talking with reporters later, Kelly called police work a "bonding experience."

"When you lose someone, a member of your family, it goes throughout the department and goes on for a long time," Kelly said.

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