When a new officer joins the NYPD’s 102nd Precinct in Queens, they will undoubtedly learn about the legacy of Det. Brian Simonsen.
Speaking at a ceremony Thursday outside the 102nd Precinct, Leanne Simonsen implored the current officers to always share stories of her late husband, who died in February 2019 while responding to a reported armed robbery.
“Tell them about Brian,” she said. “Not so much how he died, but how he lived. … If anything, he just loved life and nothing bothered him. That’s all I can ask. Continue his memory.”
That memory will continue to shine at the precinct where Det. Simonsen made a career serving the community with a new plaque that notes how he “sacrificed his life protecting civilians and fellow officers.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea both spoke at the ceremony, which ended with a formal unveiling of the plaque.
“We never forget a good man,” Mr. de Blasio said. “We never forget someone who with every ounce of his being protected other people. Det. Brian Simonsen did things right. A 19-year veteran, devoted in every way.”
The plaque will be displayed in the 102nd Precinct squad room inside a handcrafted wooden shadow box dedicated to Det. Simonsen’s memory. The shadow box was crafted by Pat Roche and now includes other donated memorabilia.
Ms. Simonsen said she just met Mr. Roche on the day of the ceremony.
“He didn’t know Brian,” she said. “He doesn’t even know the guy, but he knows how much Brian was loved.”
Det. Francis Noonan of the 102nd Precinct said the officers felt it was important for the various pieces in memory of Det. Simonsen to be prominently displayed. He contacted his brother-in-law, Mr. Roche, who is a carpenter, and discussed the idea of creating some type of display.
Mr. Roche jumped at the chance.
“He responded that he would be honored to take on such a task,” Det. Noonan said.
Seeing the final piece “was nothing short of astonishing,” he added. “Tears were definitely shed.”
He spoke about the time they’ve spent with the Simonsen family, including his mother Linda, grandfather Vern and his many friends.
“It goes without a doubt, that is the most important to all of us to keep his memory alive forever,” he said. “I can personally say that I think about Brian every day. There is not one tour that is completed without at least a story involving Brian or talking about how much we miss him.”
A native of South Jamesport who had been living in Calverton, Det. Simonsen and his legacy continue to shine in numerous ways, including through the foundation that now bears his name. South Jamesport Avenue was formally unveiled as Det. Brian Simonsen Way two years ago. Det. Simonsen was 42 when he was killed in February 2019 by friendly fire as officers responded to the report of an armed robbery. The suspect in that robber, Christopher Ransom, currently faces a top of charge of murder.
Ms. Simonsen said the officers in the 102nd Precinct are like family and her “heart and soul.”
“You’ve picked me up way too many times off the ground to just do another day,” she said, also thanking the Detectives’ Endowment Association for their efforts.
Mr. de Blasio said he’s marveled at Ms. Simonsen’s strength and her efforts to preserve her late husband’s memory. He said Det. Simonsen “left behind a lot of love.”
“To all the family and friends who are here, we grieve together and we stand together and we remember together,” the mayor said. “And because of what we do today, we will always remember.”
Mr. Shea, the police commissioner, said the 102nd Precinct will always be home to Det. Simonsen and his family.
“For years to come, we tell Brian’s story,” he said.