The shooting of two Irish American NYPD police officers in recent weeks highlights once again what a dangerous career it is protecting the public.
Irish Americans have been heroes as long as NYPD has been around. From their archives and the present day, we pick nine boys in blue and one girl in blue, some injured, and some who made the ultimate sacrifice, to keep their fellow citizens safe.
Early in 1988, New York City, like many other cities, was in the midst of a drug war that seemed out of control. Civilians who stood in the way of drug dealers were verbally threatened, physically attacked, or even killed. There seemed no way to unite the public and police and reverse this drug problem. This would all change on February 26th, 1988.
In the early morning hours, Rookie Police Officer Edward Byrne, newly assigned to the 103rd Precinct, was sitting in an RMP on the corner of 107th Avenue and Inwood Street. He was there guarding the house of a family who had defied the drug dealers and agreed to testify against them.
At approximately 3:30 am, four armed men crept up on both sides of Officer Byrne's RMP. One of the suspects knocked on the passenger window to distract him as the second suspect ran up to the driver's side window. Without uttering a word, he opened fire into the car, striking Officer Byrne in the head five times. Two additional suspects served as lookouts. All four men fled the scene, but six days later were captured and eventually sentenced to 25 years to life. The four suspects were members of a gang who were instructed to kill a police officer. Prosecutors have charged that the officer's execution was ordered by jailed drug kingpin Howard Mason.
Officer Byrne was rushed to Mary Immaculate Hospital where he died of his wounds. He was 22 years old.
This cowardly and brazen criminal act was the catalyst that united the Police Department and communities to work together and find a solution to the drug problem. As a result of Officer Byrne's death, units such as TNT (Tactical Narcotics Team) and S.N.E.U. (Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit) were created, along with the expansion of other Narcotics Units, some of which are still in existence today.
In honor of Police Office Edward Byrne, 91st Avenue was renamed "P.O. Edward R. Byrne Avenue."
On September 11, 2001, P.O. Stephen P. Driscoll made the supreme sacrifice during the World Trade Center attack in New York City, so that complete strangers may live.
Stephen was born on July 4, 1963, and raised in Bronx County, NY, attending Saint Agnes High School. He served in the United States Navy from 1981- 1985 as a Seabee Construction Mechanic.
He later was employed by the Southern Pacific Railroad Company and the Metro North Railroad Company. He was appointed as a Police Officer in the New York City Police Department on January 13, 1992.
Stephen served in the Midtown South Precinct, and the Disorder Control Unit. On January 16, 1996 he was transferred to the Street Crime Unit. On February 9, 1998 he was transferred to the Emergency Services Squad # 4. Stephen was a member of the NYPD Emerald Society Pipe Band Color Guard, the NYPD Holy Name Society, the NYPD US Navy Association, the NYPD Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the New York State Fraternal Order of Police, and a past Volunteer Fireman in the Croton on Hudson, N.Y. Fire Department.
Stephen was a Trustee with the New York State Shields, and the Lake Carmel, N.Y. Community Center. On November 11, 2001 the Lake Carmel, NY Community Center dedicated Driscoll Hall. On November 27, 2001 the Shields renamed our Medal of Valor, as the P.O. Stephen P. Driscoll Medal of Valor, to honor his memory. On October 17, 2002 the NYPD Navy Association presented the first annual Stephen P. Driscoll award. In 2003 the New York State Fraternal Order of Police formed the Stephen P. Driscoll Memorial Lodge.
Stephen is survived by his parents Patrick and Letitia, his wife Ann, son Barry, siblings, Gail, Sheila, Jeanne, Michelle, and Michael, and mother-in-law Helene, brother-in-laws, Billy (ret. FDNY), John (NYPD Sgt.), Joe (NYS Corrections Officer), sister-in-law Keri, and many nieces and nephews.
Stephen Driscoll was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor during the Annual Medal Day ceremony on December 4, 2001. The New York City Police Department Medal of Honor is the highest award that may be bestowed upon a member of the service.
Steven McDonald is a NYPD detective who was shot on July 12, 1986. The shooting left him quadriplegic. He is the most seriously injured New York City Police officer to survive his injury.