Jamaica honored a local legend over the weekend as elected officials, community leaders and the family of late NYPD Detective Keith L. Williams came together at a street co-naming ceremony near the public park that already bears his name.
Earlier this year, the City Council passed legislation which included the proposal by Councilman I. Daneek Miller to co-name the street corner at 172nd Street and Liberty Avenue in memory of Detective Williams who was a community fixture who tragically lost his life while in the line of duty.
“Detective Keith L. Williams was a pillar of the community,” Miller said on Sept. 14. “As we honor his legacy with this street co-naming, we remember his achievements, and most significantly, his commitment to young people and community development. This street sign will be a reminder for generations to come of Detective Williams’ many accomplishments and generous spirit.”
Born in 1954, Williams was a lifelong Jamaica resident who attended Jamaica High School, where he played varsity basketball for four years. He began his career in the Department of Correction, where he worked until his appointment to the Police Academy in 1981. He went on to serve in Brooklyn’s 83rd Precinct and the Public Morals Division in Queens.
In 1987, Williams was assigned to the Queens District Attorney’s Squad, and during his eight years of service there he earned to Excellent Police Duty Citations.
Outside of work, Williams spent much of his time giving back to the community. He created “Keith’s Roundball Classics,” and annual basketball tournament in Liberty Park, which was later named for him. He also sponsored an after-school program at P.S. 116.
“Detective Keith Williams exemplified extraordinary fearlessness, dedication and service to southeast Queens and New York City,” Councilman Donovan Richards said. “We should continue to honor him through safe and courageous acts of service to one another in our communities.”
In 1989, Williams and his partner, Detective Richard Guerzon, were murdered by a prisoner they were transporting. Williams was honored posthumously with the NYPD’s highest honor: the Medal of Valor.
“It’s only fitting and right that we honor Detective Keith L. Williams with a street co-naming,” state Senator James Sanders said. “He served honorably with the NYPD and paid the ultimate price, getting killed in the line of duty. Even though he is not with us today, Detective Williams’ legacy lives on and we can all pause and remember him as we pass this street in our community. I especially hope that it gives some solace to Detective Williams’ family and friends that he will not be forgotten.”
Jay “Stoney” Harrison, a 25-year-old career criminal, was convicted of shooting the two detectives to death with a stolen police revolver as he was being transported to Rikers Island.
“Detective Keith L. Williams dedicated his life to public service, promoting public safety, and mentoring our youth, so it is especially tragic that we lost such a great man in the line of duty,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “It is therefore most appropriate that we honor Detective Wiliams through this street co-naming. From this day forward, all who pass through this intersection will be reminded of the tireless dedication to others exhibited by Detective Williams.”