The memories of seven men who have died while serving the 103rd Precinct were honored last week when current and retired officers dedicated the Wall of Heroes at the Jamaica station house.
One hundred years from now, when we are all gone and forgotten, these men will not be because their names will still be on the wall of the 103 Precinct, no matter where (the building) is, First Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Dunne said at the dedication ceremony May 9.
Officers, family and friends filled a large tent for the event in the parking lot in front of the 103th Precinct house at 168-02 P.O. Edward R. Byrne Ave., named for the precinct officer most recently killed in the line of duty in 1988.
Officer Thomas Pegues, Officer Timothy Hurley, Detective William Capers, Officer Kenneth Nugent, Officer William Long and Inspector Thomas Boylan also died while serving the 103rd Precinct, which covers Jamaica and Hollis and was established in 1927.
The crowd honored the heroes with a moment of silence before the departments Emerald Society played taps and planes flew overhead.
George Reynolds, a trustee for Queens South in the Patrolmens Benevolent Association who knew several of the precincts heroes, said he was proud of the current officers for organizing the event.
There is virtually nobody in this command who knew anyone who was killed, Reynolds said, but they felt something should be done about their incredible sacrifices.
Byrne was killed in the midst of the citys drug war. He was shot to death Feb. 26, 1988 while guarding witnesses who agreed to testify against drug dealers.
His death was planned as a message from the drug dealers to the police, saying: We control the city, Reynolds said.
His death acted as a catalyst which swept across the nation and reached as far as the White House, Reynolds said about the fight against drugs. That was the thing to unite the public and the police and acknowledge we had such a problem.
After his death, new units such as the Tactical Narcotics Team and the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit were created to tackle the citys drug problem.
Officer Joe Lindner recalled the day he learned of Byrnes death over the radio. It was a very pretty traumatic time in our lives, he said. It was known throughout the nation as an assassination, because it was planned.
Meanwhile, police officers had to carry on with their work, something which Reynolds said was hard to do after losing one of their own.
Its like losing somebody in your own family, he said. But we still had to go out there and do our job. Thats one of the hardest things... you cant grieve privately.
The four men who killed Byrne were arrested six days after the shooting and remain in jail today.
Officer Thomas Pegues was killed Aug. 20, 1974 during a traffic stop. After arresting the cars driver for an expired license, Pegues was shot to death by the cars passenger. Both suspects fled the scene but were soon captured.
Officer Timothy Hurley was shot to death March 9, 1974 during the robbery of a bar. The shooter tricked Hurley and his partner by yelling that perpetrators were in the bar. Then he shot Hurley in the back. The suspect was turned in to police by his neighbors.
On April 3, 1972 while working in plainclothes, Detective William Capers was mistaken for a perpetrator and shot to death by a uniformed officer. As a result of his death, armed confrontation policies and procedures were put in place which currently help officer to identify one another.
Officer Kenneth Nugent died Aug. 21, 1971 after intervening in a robbery in progress at a store where he had stopped to buy cigarettes on his way to work. Two of the three suspects fired at Nugent, mortally wounding him, but he returned fire and killed one of them before dying. The remaining two were soon captured by police.
On Sept. 1, 1956, Officer William Long discovered a man breaking into parked cars in a garage. Long attempted to arrest the suspect, but the man shot him. Although he was mortally wounded, Long returned fire and staggered to the street where he told a retired detective enough information so that the suspect was soon arrested. Long died later that day.
Inspector Thomas Boylan died April 5, 1952 when debris from a crashing cargo plane hit the car he was traveling in. Boylan was a 30-year veteran of the Police Department and the first member of the 103 Precinct to be killed.
Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 138.
©2001 Community News Group
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