Hundreds mourn NYPD officer

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For New York City police officers, it hasn’t gotten any easier.

More than six months after the destruction of the World Trade Center killed scores of New York City’s Finest and Bravest, hundreds of police officers gathered in Queens Village Saturday at the funeral of Moira Smith, the only woman police officer to die Sept. 11.

“Everything good in life was Moira — the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect friend,” said Lisa Mavarra, who worked with Smith as a police officer in Manhattan’s 13th Precinct. “I was just so proud of her.”

Hundreds packed Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Queens Village to remember Smith, the well-decorated officer who was 38 when she died. Nearly half of the crowd were uniformed police officers.

One police officer who was not in uniform was Smith’s husband, James.

James Smith remembered his wife as living “with determination, of putting others first, acting with courage and curiosity, and always having a smile on her face.”

James Smith attended the funeral with the couple’s 2-year-old daughter, Patricia. With a cold wind blowing, Smith and his daughter watched the coffin of his wife and her mother taken out of the church. A column of police officers, including Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, stood by, listening as “Amazing Grace” was played on bagpipes.

Smith, whose remains were discovered days before the funeral, had served on the force for 13 years. She joined the Police Department in 1988, working with the Transit Police. In 1997, she transferred to the 13th Precinct at 230 East 21st St., where she and Mavarra became friends.

Anative of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, Smith had a long history of honors. In 1991, she received the NYPD’s Distinguished Duty Medal for rescuing commuters after a subway crash in Manhattan’s Union Square.

Last year Smith was picked as one of the Women of the Year by both Glamour and Ms. magazines, and she was named Woman of the Year by the NYPD’s Policewomen’s Endowment Association.

After Sept. 11, Smith was posthumously given the NYPD’s highest award, the Medal of Honor and recognized in the state Senate’s “Women of Distinction” exhibit.

Rev. Al Lopinto, a friend of the Smiths who conducted the funeral service, said Smith showed why she had earned those honors on Sept. 11.

“Immediately, she went with what she knew her vocation was: to extend her service to those in need,” he said.

On Sept. 11, Smith raced from her precinct to the World Trade Center, where she helped guide survivors out of the flaming buildings.

After escorting people away from the site, Smith headed back, hoping to help more.

“She returned to see who else she might serve,” said LoPinto.

“There was nothing going to stop her from saving as many lives as she could,” Mavarra said.

James Smith spoke briefly of his wife. He told the congregation that he hoped the remains of those still missing from the Sept. 11 attacks could be found.

“There are still many families out there who need our prayers,” he said.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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