When Michael Alvarez graduated from the NYPD academy Monday, none of his Long Island family members could attend the ceremony because of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
So his family gathered at Pinelawn National Cemetery, with the 31-year-old new police officer on their minds as they remembered his uncle — Sept. 11th victims' advocate and former NYPD Det. Luis Alvarez, who died exactly a year before is nephew was sworn in.
Until the day he died, Alvarez advocated with every last bit of energy for the successful extension in 2019 of the September 11 Victims Compensations Fund, even traveling to testify in a weakened and gaunt state on Capitol Hill.
The coincidence of death and graduation exactly a year apart was just one of the poignant elements for the Alvarez family Monday. The NYPD providing Michael Alvarez, who lives in Suffolk County and comes from a police family, the very same badge number his uncle wore, made the day that much more memorable.
“We loved that they did that for him,” said Michael Alvarez's father, Phil, a former Suffolk County Police Department detective who retired a year ago. “I am so proud to see him continue the family’s legacy of service to others.”
Michael Alvarez was unavailable for an interview Monday because even though he had graduated, he would be working at the police academy until later in the evening.
In fact, his father said, it's been so hectic for the new recruits in recent weeks because of protests and disorders that they were kept on standby for duty, even though they hadn’t finished academy training.
“They were not called,” Phil Alvarez said.
The passing down of badge numbers to family members is not unheard of in the NYPD.
But the fact that Luis Avarez retired as a detective created a special complication. His detective shield number was 1361. But that very number for a police officer shield hadn’t been used in years and was on a badge worn down by time, Phil Alvarez said.
As a remedy, the department made a new cop badge embossed with the number 1361, one that will accompany Michael Alvarez as he embarks on his first assignment in the 114th Precinct in Queens.