You all know that Officer Holder was shot dead by a fleeing drug dealer a week ago Tuesday at 120th St. in East Harlem at about 7 p.m. This is the fourth police officer killing in the past year in New York City, three or perhaps all four being Hispanic, Chinese or Black. That evening, my wife and I happened to be in a taxi about 9 p.m. on the East Side heading home from Manhattan over the Queensborough Bridge—the entire Upper East Side/East Harlem area had been locked down, the FDR Expressway was closed, there were cops and flares everywhere. When a cop is shot the police don’t do things by halves. It was dramatic, even intimidating, in any case you’re glad the police are so impressive and decisive when they need to be. During the week there was a lot of emotion in New York about this. The most sensitive issue is how police across the country are viewed these days, especially in Black communities, whether the police are standing down and whether, given events of the past year, Black lives matter. Here the event was more complicated: a cop had been killed by a civilian, not the reverse, and it was Black-on-Black violence, a Black cop killed by a Black killer. One line had it: ‘Blue lives matter.’ In any case, Holder, 35 years old, was by all the world knows about him now a dedicated cop, a good man and on the verge of moving up: engaged to be married, about to close on a house.
As for myself, I felt compelled Tuesday to go out to Central Allen Cathedral in Jamaica, Queens, for the wake the day before Officer Holder’s funeral. There were about 200 cops and police officials around the Cathedral in fellowship, a somber but not distraught mood inside; and a line of visitors a couple of blocks long. Certainly most of you saw TV footage or photos of the thousands of cops who were at the funeral service, like a long wave. Not a military parade but a lot of them had their guns. Both for the wake and the funeral service, the casket was open, Office Holder was dressed in his uniform including his hat. The usual eulogies and music were done. De Blasio went on too long and tried hard to be sincere but his guts are not fully engaged with the police force. Al Sharpton was asked not to give a eulogy. It was said Holder’s family preferred it that way. Sharpton was not one of Randy Holder’s favorite people.
I’m writing this mainly to signal to readers the extraordinary eulogy delivered by Police Commissioner William Bratton. Bratton is a cop’s cop, a working class guy from the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, who is a CBE (Commander of the British Empire). He spoke from the inside, personifying the dedication and remarkable solidarity of police officers, men and women, in New York and across the country. (Jet Blue airline stepped up and flew gratis hundreds of police officers from across the country.)
In an emotional eulogy, Bill Bratton promoted Officer Holder, posthumously, to first-grade detective, Det. First Grade, and read a letter Holder wrote explaining why he wanted to join the police. Below is an excerpt from the eulogy.
‘Every new recruit must answer the same question as they come into our academy: “Why did you become a police officer?” They type out their responses and submit them to their academy instructors — every recruit, including Randy Holder. This is what Randy Holder told us in his letter, July 10, 2010:
My name is Randolph Holder, born March 19, 1982 in Georgetown, Guyana. Growing up, all I wanted to do was make a difference in my community and become a role model. In November of 2002, I migrated to the United States of America to live with father.
When I read this letter and I saw that term, “to live with father,” I was struck with “father.” Not “my father,” not “my dad,” not “my pop,” but “father.” The respect, sir, he must have had for you. (Holder’s father was in the front row.) The term “father” denotes that. I was just extraordinarily touched by that term in this letter. The respect he must have had for you.
‘My first real job was working as a security officer. Most of the managers were retired NYPD officers and they always talked a lot about how they changed their communities. That’s when I decided I could be a role model and make a difference in my community and in New York.
In December 2010, I will graduate from the NYPD Academy to become a police officer in the greatest police department in the world.
For your information,
Probationary Police Officer
“Randy, you were indeed a role model. You made a difference. You touched the lives of your family, your colleagues — the thousands upon thousands whom are here today, your community, your city and now, your country.
From your loss, we can take this. We can change the fact that the city came to know you too late, as even though service is not compelled in this country, public safety is a shared responsibility.
We all have to come together to help the good people and get the evil people off the streets, to steer the kids on the precipice to the right side and not the wrong side. All of us share the responsibility to keep people safe. It can’t just be what cops do. It has to be what all of us do.
And that will be a fitting legacy for Det. First Grade Randy Holder, shield number 9657, who served us all. If we want to remember him and to honor him, coming together to finish his work is the way. It’s what we all can do.
It ‘s what we all, community and police, need to do. It’s our shared responsibility.
So Det. Randolph Holder, you are relieved of your duty as a New York City police officer guarding at the gates of New York City, and we send you on your way to be a guardian angel at the gates of heaven.”