The New York Times

September 18, 2004


Salutes and Memories as a Slain Detective Is Mourned

By PATRICK HEALY

EAST ISLIP, N.Y., Sept. 15--After the funeral hymns, the sermons and the eulogies had ended, the coffin bearing a New York City police detective glided from the shoulders of the six pallbearers into a hearse on Wednesday, and thousands of police officers crisply saluted.

Then, after a little coaxing, another hand rose. It belonged to Kevin Rafferty, the 9-year-old son of Detective Patrick Rafferty. The boy, wearing a suit coat much too large for him, glanced at the police officers frozen in salute to his slain father, and then lifted his right hand to the navy blue police hat teetering on his head.

The funeral for Detective Rafferty, one of two detectives fatally shot last week in Brooklyn, was marked not with outrage or cries for justice, or even attempts to make sense of the killings, but with memories from friends and poignant moments, like the salute from his son.

Between laughter and tears, those who came here remembered Detective Rafferty, 39, through tales of beer-drinking stunts and duck hunts, pig roasts and camping trips. Friends comforted Detective Rafferty's widow, Eileen, putting their arms around her to help guide her toward the church. The detective's youngest daughter waved when a formation of police helicopters flew overhead.

"I loved Pat Rafferty," his former partner, Detective Joe Calabrese, told mourners at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church. "The only things that will not miss Pat are the ducks on Long Island, the rabbits in Maine and the perps in Brooklyn."

The Suffolk County police estimated that more than 15,000 police officers, friends, relatives and officials attended the funeral. The officers parked their cars on the side of Heckscher State Parkway and as they walked two miles through this town of 14,000 to the church, they inspected their white gloves and compared photographs of their children pinned inside their caps. People peeked out of laundries, delis and dentists' offices to stare at the river of navy blue going by. Many police officers drove here in a caravan of New York Police Department patrol cars and vans, while others came from departments in Yonkers, Larchmont and Bridgeport, Conn., among others. They lined Montauk Highway in a row stretching three miles, and they watched as a parade of limousines and a hearse began creeping toward the church.

Friends gathered outside said Detective Rafferty and his wife had attended Mass at St. Mary's every Sunday with Kevin and their two other children, Kara, 12, and Emma, 5. They remembered Detective Rafferty as an athletic, focused police officer who transformed into a clumsy, sentimental dad when he came home to his family in Bay Shore.

A 15-year veteran of the Police Department, Detective Rafferty helped clear debris and recover bodies at ground zero after the Sept. 11 attack, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said at the funeral. Mr. Kelly, in his remembrance, praised Detective Rafferty's tally of 400 arrests during his career.

Detective Rafferty often worked late night shifts and filled in for other officers at the 67th precinct in Flatbush, where he was assigned, his friends said. He would cook, dance and discipline noisy new police recruits by forcing them to watch "The Sound of Music."

He was close to Detective Robert Parker, the other detective killed on Friday when they approached a man in a car who wrestled a gun away from one of the detectives and then shot them both.

Detective Carl McLaughlin, who also works in the 67th precinct, said the skinny Detective Rafferty and the heavier, rounder Detective Parker made an odd pair when they were together on a case.

"They looked like a number 10," Detective McLaughlin said in an interview on Wednesday. The two men worked together up to the last moments of their lives, speakers at the funeral said. After they were shot, Detective Rafferty shot the suspect in the foot, and Detective Parker called 911 and identified the gunman as a man whose photograph was on the dashboard of the detectives' car. Detective Parker's funeral is scheduled for Friday.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg praised Detective Rafferty, calling him a hero, and told mourners that Marlon Legere, the man who has been charged with murdering the detectives, would be convicted.

But for the most part, the speakers inside the church and the people gathered outside told stories about Detective Rafferty.

Kevin recalled that during a camping trip, his father had twice scared a bear away from the family's tent. Kevin said he had been scared of the bear, but knew that with his father there, he would be safe.

"I loved my dad more than anything in the world, and I wanted you to know that," he said. Then the mourners broke out in applause.