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NYPD ceremony to honor officers who died of Sept. 11-related illnesses

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O'Neill are expected to join friends and family of the fallen for a memorial service at NYPD headquarters.

Placards with the names of fallen police officers

Placards with the names of fallen police officers in the Police Memorial Lobby at NYPD headquarters. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

The names of nearly 50 NYPD officers who succumbed in recent years to illnesses attributed to their work at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11 attacks will be added Friday to a special memorial tablet at police headquarter's Hall of Heroes.

Some 47 members of the department who died of illnesses in recent years, mostly in 2017 and 2018, will be included, among them, former chief of detectives William Allee, detectives, captains, lieutenants, sergeants and police officers.

The new names represent the largest addition to the Sept. 11-section of the police memorial in recent years. In 2017, the names of 34 officers who died of Sept. 11-related illnesses were added and last year, 22 more made it onto one of two tablets. The names of 23 NYPD officers killed in the attacks had previously been added.

“This is going to get worse, said John Feal of the Fealgood Foundation, referring to first responders terminally ill from their recovery work. "It is not getting better.”

Feal’s Nesconset-based foundation is a major national advocate for first-responder health issues.

The names of a number of Long Islanders will be added, including Sgt. Christopher Christodoulou of Lynbrook, Det. Sixto  Almonte of West Babylon, Officer Andrew Lewis of Islip, and Officer Mark Natale of South Huntington. Natale died in 2018 and the others in 2017 from illnesses connected to their work at Ground Zero.

Unveiling the names of the fallen has become an annual May ritual for the NYPD. Both Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, as well as other politicians and families of the officers, will attend the ceremony. Privately, officials have fretted over whether the lobby housing the memorial can comfortably accommodate the large numbers of family members expected.

With the addition of the 47 new names, the overall number of officers memorialized in the Hall of Heroes will exceed 1,000, including one who died in 1849. The overall number includes officers who died in the line of duty or while serving in the military. Among those memorialized are police, school safety and auxiliary NYPD officers, as well as traffic enforcement agents and others in law enforcement.

In 2018, the addition of more names used up the allotted space for 160 names on the first Sept. 11 memorial tablet As a result, the NYPD installed a second tablet opposite the first one in the lobby. But with 47 new names added and more expected on the tablet as the mortality rate of those with Sept. 11-related illness keeps climbing, the space on the second tablet could be exhausted in a few years.

In last year’s ceremony, Det. Steven McDonald, who died in January 2017, more than 30 years after a line-of-duty shooting left him a quadriplegic, and NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia, a mother of three shot dead by a mentally ill gunman in 2017, were honored. Det. Brian Simonsen of Calverton, who died as a result of a “friendly fire” shooting in February, is expected to be added to the memorial next year. 

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