FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2009
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG DELIVERS EULOGY FOR OMAR EDWARDS AND POSTHUMOUSLY PROMOTES HIM FROM POLICE OFFICER TO DETECTIVE
Following are Mayor Bloomberg’s remarks as prepared for delivery at Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn this morning
“Thank you, and good morning. About 18 months ago, many of us here today were at Madison Square Garden. Along with thousands of others, we were cheering the newest graduates of the NYPD Police Academy.
“It was only two days after Christmas. And for one proud young officer in particular, it probably felt as if he’d just received what he’d wanted all his life. Because – as you, Natalia, told me last Saturday – since he’d been five years old, his fondest dream had been to become one of New York’s Finest.
“Today, we gather again, this time to praise the gallant spirit of that dynamic young police officer, and also to pray for him as he makes life’s final journey. So to the family, friends, neighbors, and fellow officers of Omar Edwards, let me express the deepest condolences of 8.4 million New Yorkers.
“Omar’s devotion to the NYPD truly knew no limits. William, as Omar’s father-in-law, and as a nearly 16-year veteran of the NYPD, I know that you could tell us all about that – about how eager Omar was to get out on the street even while he was still in the Police Academy, and about how after he graduated, Omar would talk to you constantly about the assignments and training that would broaden his experience and sharpen his skills.
“Becoming a police officer was a dream-come-true for Omar, and he planned to make the most of it. Omar’s passion for policing was well-known to the other officers in his Impact Response Team, too. They’ll tell you that in any situation, no matter how tense – or in any chase, no matter where it led – they could rely on Omar without a second thought. His supervisors recognized that, too. They often detailed Omar to bicycle patrols of Manhattan’s public housing developments – a very high-profile and quick-response assignment. That’s because they were completely confident of his ability to handle any situation he encountered.
“Omar stood out in another way, too. He was great with people – all kinds of people. He had a special way with youngsters and felt a special mission to help them. It probably had something to do with the fact that he’d grown up in our city. He understood a lot about the lives our young people lead, including the wrong turns that, unfortunately, it’s often so easy for them to take. And keeping that from happening was a big reason why he’d become a police officer.
“That’s why Omar was always ready to hop off his bike at a playground, and stop to shoot a few baskets with the youngsters there. Even though he wasn’t much taller than I am, Omar was always welcome on the court, too. Because Omar was a superb athlete. Fast and powerful, he was a standout defensive back on the NYPD football team. But what his coaches also remember and admired about Omar was his composure and self-possession.
“That’s because their team plays a lot of road games – and that makes the players representatives of the NYPD in other cities. Cool and level-headed, Omar always projected just the right image. Of course, football could sometimes make Omar lose his cool – that is, if the New York Giants didn’t win. Then, he might be so upset he’d refuse to take any phone calls for the rest of that day – especially not from a father-in-law who, for some mysterious reason, roots for the Dallas Cowboys. Sounds like a great relationship.
“But there’s one game Omar would undoubtedly have enjoyed a lot. It was played this Sunday: The annual NYPD match-up with the FDNY team. It’s always the game of the year and he would have been proud to see the Finest come out on top. He also would have been touched by how the team honored him that day and by the way they’ve paid their respects to his family during the days since.
“That’s because if there was one thing that meant more to Omar than football – or more to him than the NYPD. It was his growing family. In fact, he took the past season off from the team to spend more time with his two little boys. Danielle: He adored you and them. He talked about you with everyone. And on a recent day off, bursting with pride, he brought Keanu in a snuggli and Xavier in his little Yankees cap to PSA-5 headquarters, to show them off to his fellow officers.
“One week ago, the life of this wonderful young man, a life so full and so promising, was cut short in a few deadly seconds. We’re investigating to find out exactly what occurred. But one thing we do know is that, just as Danielle has said to me, Omar was a police officer first, last, and always. Although he had just left his shift that night, he was nevertheless pursuing a criminal and protecting our city.
“His devotion to duty then – and throughout his all-too-brief career with the NYPD – exemplified the best traditions of this great department. And it’s precisely for that reason that today I’m proud to announce that Omar Edwards will now be promoted, posthumously, to the rank of detective.
“When something as terrible as Omar’s death takes place, God doesn’t give us a reason for why it happens. But he does give us the power, and the responsibility, to find meaning and purpose in such events. So I promise you all that we’ll do everything possible to learn from this awful tragedy.
“There’s an element of risk in policing that can never be fully eliminated. But we will do everything we can to minimize that risk, so that other police officers and families won’t have to go through this kind of pain and loss. We remain committed to having the best-trained, best-led police force in the nation. One that continues to keep us America’s safest city and one that continues to reflect the full racial and ethnic diversity of this great city.
“To Danielle, and to all Omar’s family, I want to say: I know the days ahead will be hard. But I want you to also know that we will be there for you every way that we can. And in the years to come, when Keanu and Xavier want to find out more about their father – as they will – this is what I hope you’ll tell them: He was a hero who protected the people of the greatest city in the world – and we’ll never forget him. May God bless his memory. May God rest his soul. And may God bless and protect the NYPD.”
Stu Loeser/ Jason Post (212) 788-2958