Widow of slain detective addresses NYPD graduates in College Point

Maritza Ramos, whose husband Det. Rafael Ramos was fatally shot while on the job in Brooklyn in 2014, addressed graduates at the NYPD’s Police Academy in College Point on Tuesday. Ramos pinned the shield on the breast of 25-year-old Probationary Police Officer Mohamad Ghafari during the ceremony.
Photo by Shane O’Brien

The widow of a murdered New York detective addressed hundreds of NYPD Academy graduates on Tuesday as part of Gun and Shield Day, which sees recruits receive their badge and firearm before officially graduating from the Academy.

Maritza Ramos, whose husband Det. Rafael Ramos was slain in an ambush shooting in Brooklyn in 2014 alongside colleague Det. Wenjian Liu, addressed graduates at the NYPD’s Police Academy in College Point on Tuesday afternoon.

Ms. Ramos also pinned the shield on the breast of 25-year-old Probationary Police Officer Mohamad Ghafari during Tuesday’s ceremony.

In an essay explaining why he had joined the police force, Ghafari wrote that he had been inspired by Det. Ramos—who worked as a school safety officer at Staten Island’s I.S. 72 prior to joining the NYPD—while Ghafari was an I.S. 72 middle schooler.

Ghafari said Ramos used to wait with him after school each day until his mother showed up to collect him, adding that the pair developed a strong bond and friendship.

He said Ramos expressed his ambition to become an NYPD officer and described him as the “most selfless person” he had ever met.

Ghafari wrote that he decided to join the NYPD after learning of Ramos’s murder in December 2014 to honor the legacy of his hero.

Ramos’s widow said Ghafari’s essay was “inspirational” and moved her to tears.

Maritza Ramos and Probationary Police Officer Mohamad Ghafari hug during Tuesday’s ceremony in College Point. Photo by Shane O’Brien

“The moment they showed it to me, I cried. I showed it to my boys, and they loved it. Just knowing that even though he’s not here, he touched someone’s life like that, it’s very touching,” Maritza Ramos said following Tuesday’s ceremony.

Ghafari, who met Ms. Ramos for the first time during Tuesday’s ceremony, said it was “truly a blessing” to meet her, while Ramos described the moment as a “great honor.”

“It’s a great honor to have met him and know that my husband was an inspiration to him. It just goes to show what a great man my husband was.”

Addressing the NYPD Academy graduates during Tuesday’s ceremony, Ramos described her husband as a “man of deep faith and strong values.”

Det. Ramos and his colleague Det. Liu were shot dead at close range as they sat in their patrol car in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Dec. 20, 2014. Perpetrator Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, had published “very anti-police” posts on Instagram in the days leading up to the attack, according to then-NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.

Ms. Ramos said on Tuesday that her husband was murdered simply because he was a police officer.

“Tragically, his life was taken by a deranged individual because of the uniform that he wore. What this person didn’t realize was that my husband was one of the kindest people you could ever meet.”

Ramos urged the graduates to “stay safe and make it home to your families each day and night,” and added that they will face many challenges and meet people who will “try to make you forget who you are.”

NYPD cadets graduating from the academy at College Point Tuesday. Photo by Shane O’Brien

Speaking afterward, Ramos said she hopes the graduates will receive the respect that they deserve, calling on the new officers to “stay safe, stay vigilant and continue doing good.”

“It’s overwhelming because some of them are so young. I pray that they all stay safe and that people respect them because they deserve to be respected. They work hard to protect us and keep us safe.”

Ramos established the Detective Rafael Ramos Foundation in tribute to her husband. The non-profit is dedicated to building stronger ties between law enforcement and the communities they serve. The foundation additionally aims to provide financial assistance to the families of slain law enforcement personnel.

Ramos said the foundation has “grown and grown” each year since its establishment.