New York Daily News

September 16, 2004

Little boy blue lauds 'great dad'

Slain detective's son, 9, offers touching eulogy as thousands mourn


   Police officers carry casket of slain Detective Patrick Rafferty to his funeral Mass
  Police officers carry casket of slain Detective Patrick Rafferty to his funeral Mass

The NYPD hat that belonged to Kevin Rafferty's daddy fell past the 9-year-old's eyes yesterday as he followed his father's flag-draped casket down the stairs of a Long Island church.

As the boy held a cop's comforting hand, a missing-man formation of NYPD helicopters flew overhead and bagpipes skirled a solemn goodbye to Detective Patrick Rafferty.

Thousands of cops - many of whom were brought to tears by the boy's eulogy during a heart-wrenching funeral Mass only minutes earlier - saluted Kevin, his sisters, Kara, 12, and Emma, 4, and their mother, Eileen.

Then the boy pressed his own hand to his forehead in a final salute to his heroic dad, who was gunned down with his partner on a Brooklyn street Friday night.

"My dad was just a great man and a great father," Kevin told the throngs that packed St. Mary's Catholic Church yesterday morning.

"I just wanted you to know that," he added, his words piped over a loudspeaker and carried to the sea of officers stretching more than a mile in either direction outside the East Islip church.

"I felt safe and secure knowing my dad was there to protect us," Kevin added, recounting a recent camping trip where Rafferty, 39, chased a bear away from the family.

It was a theme also sounded by the slain detective's friends and fellow cops: Patrick Rafferty made them feel safe.

"He was like Clark Kent. No matter what the circumstances, Pat would get up and go," said Detective Carl McLaughlin, who worked with Rafferty and Detective Robert Parker at the 67th Precinct.

The partners were slain when a career criminal allegedly grabbed Parker's gun and shot them in the chest in East Flatbush. Rafferty managed to squeeze off a shot that slowed down the suspected killer, helping cops to capture the ex-con.

At his funeral, Rafferty was remembered for his dogged determination and fierce dedication that led Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to call him a "fearless and relentless pursuer of dangerous felons."

"He could handle any case and do it well," McLaughlin said of Rafferty, who made 398 collars during a 15-year career.

The detective, who loved to cook, brought a country flavor to the city with his penchant for cowboy ballads, hunting and pig roasts.

Riding in an NYPD squad car with Rafferty meant his partner had two choices on the radio - country music or talk radio. He was passionate about both.

"He was a cowboy in a cop uniform," said his best friend and first partner, 67th Precinct Detective Joe Calabrese. "The only people who won't miss Pat are the ducks in Long Island, the rabbits in Maine and the perps in Brooklyn."

McLaughlin said the slain partners - the first cops gunned down in the line of duty this year - had decidedly different tastes.

"They were like the Odd Couple, but they fit well together," he said. "Pat loved to cook and Bobby loved to eat. Pat liked line dancing. Bobby lived for 'Miami Vice.'"

"They were both some of the best detectives I ever worked with," McLaughlin said.

Mayor Bloomberg sadly noted that the tragedy came on the eve of the third anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. He then turned to Rafferty's family and made a solemn vow: "Justice will be served."

A wake for Parker, 43, will be held today at the Grace Funeral Home, 607 North Conduit Blvd., in Brooklyn, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

His funeral service will be held tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the Christian Cultural Center, 12020 Flatlands Ave., Brooklyn.