A memorial service was held for a police officer who was killed in the line of duty nearly 30 years ago in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Several members of the NYPD, including Commissioner James O'Neill, gathered at 107th Avenue and Inwood Street just after midnight to honor officer Edward Byrne, who was killed while he sat alone in an unmarked police car in 1988. The young officer was the son of a former police lieutenant.
Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said the fallen officer has inspired future generations to maintain the tradition of protecting and serving the public.
"Being here at this time and celebrating this tradition, it started from sorrow and respect," he said. "We remember with the replica of a car. We can imagine police officer Byrne sitting in that car, doing what so many of us have done before and what many of us will do this very night, and gave his life."
Lynch said that Byrne's death motivated the NYPD to make the streets safer for all.
Four men fatally gunned down the New York City policeman as he guarded a drug witness in 1988. Larry Byrne, a former assistant federal prosecutor, publicly said his brother's killers should never be released from prison. He issued the public plea along with NYPD officers and Sen. Charles Schumer in 2012.
"The assassination of my brother Eddie was a terrible crime and a terrible tragedy," said Larry Byrne. "In order to protect our city and all police officers in the future, these four convicted murderers should never be granted parole."
The slaying of Officer Edward Byrne drew the attention of President George H.W. Bush and spurred local and national anti-crime initiatives. About 10,000 uniformed police officers from around the country attended Byrne's funeral.
Byrne was shot as he sat alone in a marked police car in South Jamaica, Queens. The 22-year-old officer was guarding a house that had been firebombed after the resident repeatedly complained about neighborhood drug dealers.
Philip Copeland directed the hit on orders from a jailed drug dealer. Todd Scott distracted Byrne while David McClary shot him five times in the head at point blank range. Scott Cobb was the wheelman.
"This wasn't just a callous, premeditated murder, which in and of itself was so horrible that parole should be flatly denied," said Schumer. "It was a brazen attempt to terrorize both the decent, hard-working people who are the backbone of New York City's neighborhoods and the brave men and women in the law enforcement community who put their lives on the line to protect them."
In the aftermath of the killing, the NYPD, which saw it as a defiant message from the drug world, established teams of undercover officers to sweep dealers off the streets in drug-plagued neighborhoods. A federal police funding program was named in Byrne's memory.
Byrne's father presented then-GOP nominee Bush with his son's police shield during the presidential election campaign. Bush showed the shield to audiences around the country when he spoke about the need to crack down on illegal drugs.