When he showed up for his final day Monday at NYPD headquarters in Manhattan, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce would have been justified in thinking he needed a rowboat, given the torrential morning rain, for the traditional retirement “walk out” from the building.
But shortly after 2 p.m., as Boyce and his wife Kathleen took the final ceremonial stroll through a gauntlet of hundreds of applauding police officers, including Commissioner James O’Neill, the rain stopped and the sun finally broke through the gray clouds.
With a smile, Boyce glanced upward and pointed to the sky.
Boyce, who this week hits the mandatory retirement age of 63, and his wife, were feted at headquarters in a private party that drew NYPD brass from around the city.
A farewell poster in the auditorium showed a photo of a younger, bearded Boyce as a cop, looking a bit like the legendary officer Frank Serpico. Nearby was a more recent department photo of Boyce taken after he became chief of detectives four years ago.
Michael Palladino, head of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, told Newsday that when former Commissioner William Bratton tapped Boyce in 2014 to lead the force of 6,000 detectives, his presence immediately boosted morale.
“There was a good working relationship and a mutual respect between Chief Boyce and the detectives,” Palladino said. “Bob Boyce stepped out of Central Casting in that he looked the part and very astute when it came to investigations.”
The actual walkout began as the NYPD ceremonial band played the marching tune “Garry Owen,” an old Irish song often heard at military marches. Boyce is of Irish ancestry.
Waving to the crowd, Boyce, in full uniform, and his wife, walked to a waiting 1989 police vehicle. Just before leaving, Boyce shook hands with Bratton, O’Neill and other NYPD brass, including new Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea.
Then, with a red light flashing in the car, the Boyces left for the trip back to their home in Nassau County.