FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 20, 2011
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG DELIVERS EULOGY FOR DETECTIVE FIRST GRADE FERMIN "SONNY"
Following are Mayor Bloomberg’s remarks as prepared for delivery at St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn this morning. Please check against delivery.
"Good morning. It's an honor to be here to pay tribute to a man who dedicated his entire life to keeping the streets of New York safe: First Grade Detective Fermin ‘Sonny' Archer.
"I never got a chance to know Sonny, but everything I've learned about him over the past few days makes me wish I had. As a high-ranking detective serving on the Fugitive Task Force, Sonny had one of the hardest, most dangerous jobs out there.
"Having spent more than two and a half decades on the police force, he could have retired years ago. And many people – including his father – asked him: Well, why don't you? Sonny responded: Pop, you retire when you're tired or you don't enjoy what you're doing. I'm not tired and I'm still enjoying it.
"I know that Sonny's passing is not easy to accept, not for anyone here, but I hope it provides some solace to know that he truly loved what he did, right up until the end.
"I'm 69 and I know exactly how Sonny felt: I'm not tired and I'm still enjoying it. But Sonny's job required him to put his life on the line – and he did that every day. At work, he faced some of the worst parts of our city then he'd go home to see his family, maybe squeeze in a midnight workout at the gym, and then get up and do it all over again.
"Sonny's passion for serving and protecting others was kindled by the man who raised him, his father Fermin Senior. Fermin, as a parent myself, I can only imagine the pain you are going through. A father should never have to bury his child. But you should feel tremendous pride in the son you raised. And in the fact that you helped him realize his potential and make a difference in the lives of millions of New Yorkers.
"As a single father, Fermin Senior was determined that Sonny choose the right path for his future. He also knew that in Brownsville in the 70s and 80s, it was far too easy for a young man to take a wrong turn.
"That's why Fermin worked multiple jobs so he could earn the money to send his son to the New York Military Academy. It was there that Sonny learned the values of discipline, courage, and honor that would inform the rest of his career and life.
"But at first, Sonny resisted. To hear his father tell it, Sonny was a rebellious young man who resented being sent away to school. It was only when his father had a terrible car accident that Sonny began to understand and respect the sacrifices his father had made for him. Sonny described his father's brush with death as a turnaround moment in his life. That near-tragedy inspired him to become the man that all of you know and love.
"Tragedies such as losing a parent can challenge you in ways you never imagined. The wonderful thing is that children usually rise to the challenge. And they do so because their parents have cultivated in them the strength and determination to overcome obstacles and continue chasing their dreams.
"That's exactly what Sonny would want his children to do. Mike, Tiffany, Orlanzo, and Angel: I lost my father when I was around your age. I remember the sadness and also the fear I felt when he passed, so my heart is heavy with the pain you must feel right now.
"No matter how old you are, it's never easy to say goodbye to a parent. But I can tell you that the tears you shed today will eventually turn to smiles, and even laughter, when you look back on the special moments you spent with your father – relaxing on the beach in Florida, cooking out or watching him dance salsa or merengue.
"Sonny's love of Latin music was well-known to his close friends and family. And I'm told it's just one of the many wonderful things he shared with his loving wife, Abby. For those of you who worked with First Grade Detective Archer, it's probably hard to imagine such a serious, hulking man letting loose on the dance floor.
"Sonny was serious about police work. And he was also very good at it. His skills and bravery earned him a Combat Cross for saving his partner's life, and they helped him ascend to positions of great responsibility in the police department.
"Sonny wasn't just ‘around' for the dramatic reduction in crime that began in the early 90s and continues today. He was an integral part of it – from the introduction of the Compstat system, to the innovative policing methods that have made the NYPD famous around the world.
"But no matter how close to the department's center of power Sonny got, he always remained ‘a cop's cop.' According to his supervisor, he was the kind of guy who would never say ‘no' to a request for help, even if it came in on a Friday night, right before the shift ended, and meant driving all the way to the other end of the city.
"His dedication inspired everyone he ever worked with to be better – from his early colleagues in the Transit Police, to his current team on the Fugitive Task Force. Ask anybody and they'll tell you that Sonny was a man of action. He didn't put much stock in talk, but there were a few words that were important to him, including a phrase coined by a commander he admired that he kept posted over his desk.
"It said: Remember, We Work for God.
"No doubt about it, Sonny did God's work here in New York City. And we are a better, safer city because of it. I hope it provides some comfort for you to think of Sonny continuing God's work now, as a proud deputy in the Heavenly Force.
"May God bless the memory of Sonny Archer. May God bless the many lives he touched. And may God continue to bless the New York City Police Department.”
Stu Loeser / Marc LaVorgna (212) 788-2958
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