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A phalanx of white-gloved police officers dressed in their ceremonial uniforms lined a somber Long Island street Saturday as they paid their respects to the Nassau County officer who was gunned down in the line of duty days earlier.
As a member of Nassau County’s Emergency Service Unit, Officer Arthur Lopez, shield No. 2232, was what his fellow officers reverently referred to as one of the “E-Men.”
“You should know that Emergency Service is the hardest and most sought-after assignment in the department,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Dale told mourners at St. Christopher’s Church in Baldwin, L.I. “In order to enter the ranks of Emergency Service, or what we call ‘E-Men,’ you must be well above standards.”
Lopez’s ESU truck, No. 2424, had been painted with his name and preceded the hearse carrying his coffin to the church.
“Mr. and Mrs. Lopez, when a citizen needs help on the street, he calls for a police officer. When a police officer needs help on the street, he calls for an Emergency Service officer,” he told the parents of the 29-year-old fallen officer. “This is the way it works. It will always be this way. In our police world these are our heroes.”
Lopez, a highly decorated veteran of the department who grew up in Flushing, was shot and killed Oct. 23 when he and his partner pulled over a motorist in the Nassau portion of Bellerose who they suspected had been in an auto accident.
During his time on the force Lopez was awarded eight medals for heroic acts performed in the line of duty. At the funeral, his parents were given his police shield, his posthumously awarded detective shield and medal of valor and a pair of handcuffs that were placed on his accused killer.
Lopez’s boss, Lt. Adam Scheiner, recalled his friend, Artie, as a very young officer who badly wanted to be a member of ESU and loved to make those around him laugh.
“His enthusiasm and his energy was the first thing that caught my attention,” he said. “It was like a sparking electric wire, totally out of control and just enthusiastic.”
“Artie, by everyone’s account, was truly a best friend,” Scheiner said, and then fought back tears as he concluded his eulogy “Artie, I’ll see you when I get there.”
Just days before Lopez was killed, Nassau County Police Officer Joseph Olivieri died in the line of duty when he was struck on the roadside by a passing motorist. Nassau officials had ordered flags to be flown at half staff until Nov. 18 in honor of Olivieri, after which point they will remain lowered until Dec. 19 in honor of Lopez.
Daniel Miller, a member of the Nassau County Pipes and Drums, said playing at an officer’s funeral is something one never gets used to.
“It’s a sign of solidarity and support. It’s definitely comforting to the family,” he said. “It helps them cope with the loss and it helps us be with the family.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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