Anchorage officers may not have been able to attend the funeral in Brooklyn for slain NYPD Officer Wenjian Liu, but they are still doing their part to help the families who lost their loved ones.
Law enforcement members from around the country gathered in New York City last week to attend the funeral of NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos. Both Ramos and Liu were killed in an ambush-style shooting on Dec. 20. Two of APD’s own attended Ramos’ funeral service — Officer Keo Fujimoto and Brooklyn-native Detective Leonard Torres.
Both Torres and Fujimoto were sent to New York by the Anchorage Police Department Employees Association to represent Alaska officers, but APDEA says they could not afford to send officers to Liu’s funeral, scheduled for Sunday. Instead, they will be donating $1,000 to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which is raising money to pay off the mortgages of both men’s homes.
APD Sgt. Gerard Asselin says Anchorage may not be able to contribute much, but it will make a difference.
“I think that it has a big impact,” said Asselin. “We understand that when we go to a call and someone’s fighting or someone’s armed with a gun, that we may be injured as a result of trying to protect somebody or arrest that person. But when its just a direct attack on us as individuals solely because of the profession we’ve chosen, that puts things in a little different perspective.”
Asselin says the New York shooting has had a chilling effect on local officers as they go about their work.
“We’ve seen a marked increase in ambush-type killings of police officers in the past couple years,” Asselin said. “It makes them very concerned about what’s going on. We as a profession need to stand up and continue to support those who are still here doing the job.”
Thousands of officers were present at both funerals to say a final goodbye to Ramos and Liu. Other offers of assistance for their families have poured in from around the country, including full-tuition scholarships from the New York Yankees and Bowdoin College, where Ramos’ son is currently enrolled as a sophomore.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation has nearly reached its $800,000 goal.
KTVA’s Shannon Kemp contributed to this story.