NEW YORK – Two Norwich Police Officers traveled to New York City to attend the funeral of Rafael Ramos, and one spoke out regarding his experience citing it as one he’d never forget.
“On December 20, 2014 a tragedy hit the NYPD. Officer Rafael Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu were ambushed while on duty in their patrol car, which resulted in the loss of both of their lives,” said NPD K9 Officer Thomas Miller. “Days later, a detail was posted for members of the Norwich Police Department interested in attending Officer Ramos funeral in New York City.”
According to Miller, Annesi signed up for the detail within mere minutes of the posting, and Miller requested to join Annesi.
Miller and Sergeant Tim Annesi left at 5 a.m. Dec. 27 from Norwich to drive to NYC. According to Miller, it was Annesi’s day off, and Miller and his K9 Nitro went on their own time, not paid time.
“We were going to pay our respect to the fallen officers, their families, their department, and their city,” said Miller.
Miller added that as they approached the detail, the two were “amazed by the amount of police, fire EMS and other agency vehicles.”
“When we made it to the detail, Sgt. Annesi and I were speechless,” said Miller. “The amount of people that came together was breathtaking. We parked about two miles outside of the detail and walked in.”
When Miller refers to the detail, he said is referencing the officer’s funeral, which was shown on national television.
“I will never, and I mean never forget that walk,” said Miller. “An injured NYPD Lieutenant in a wheelchair stopped me and asked for a photograph with K9 Nitro and I.” Miller explained that he was more than pleased oblige.
Miller added that as he, Nitro and Annesi continued the two mile walk they encountered men, women and children carrying supportive signs.
“Every step of the way held signs saying “Thank you police officers,” “Sorry for your loss,” and there was not one negative sign or even gesture,” Miller said.
What happened next, Miller explained, he will always remember.
“It 67th and Myrtle Street, where a voice caught my attention. A mother was pointing at Nitro to show her young child,” said Miller. “Sgt. Annesi and I stopped briefly, waved to the child and in the most unforgettable voice the child said, ‘Thank you policemen for all you do,’ once again I was speechless and did everything I could do to hold my composure.”
The NPD officer said once they arrived at the funeral location the two men and the K9 stood between officers locations including but not limited to St. Cloud, Fla., San Francisco, Calif., Atlanta, Ga., and the NYPD.
“I was heart wrenched by the turn out, the support, the brotherhood and the love shown from every individual there,” said Miller. “We were made to feel right at home by the community and especially the NYFD.”
With regard to the lost NYPD officers and the funeral Miller said, “Officer Ramos and Officer Liu will never be forgotten, both were family men who had a passion for their career. The service had a major impact on us all. It was unexplainable, more than 25,000 officers attended.”
“I pray every police officer’s funeral I attend is the last, but I know the reality,” said Miller. “Before this experience I was proud to be a police officer, an American and a New Yorker. After this experience, I am not only proud but blessed.”
Miller stressed that the only way to make it during the hard times is together.
“United we stand, right?” added Miller. “I'm proud to serve the City of Norwich as well as every other member of my department is. Regardless of the love or even hate towards us, if you call, we will come, we will put our lives on the line for you and we only ask for one thing: your support.”
Miller offered a reminder to all, and said, “We all breathe, eat sleep and feel … just as you do.”
The officer events from Dec. 27 will remain with him for eternity, and he is glad he took the time to attend and pay respect.
Miller said he is proud to protect and serve those in the City of Norwich.