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Police Commissioner O'Neill's Eulogy for Detective Brian Mulkeen

October 4, 2019

Remarks as Delivered at the Funeral Service for NYPD Detective Brian Mulkeen

Your Eminence Cardinal Dolan, Monsignor Romano, Rabbi Kass, and all the members of the NYPD Chaplains Unit, Father Rider and the entire staff and congregation of The Church of the Sacred Heart: Thank you for being here and for hosting us in this beautiful house of worship, as we remember our fallen brother and continue to build our community of hope.

Thank you to the many elected officials who are here, the community leaders, and the clergy who are aiding us in our time of grief.

And thank you, especially, to the many police officers supporting us from around the region, the nation, and the world – thousands of whom are in formation outside this church, lining the streets on this crisp fall morning.

To Brian's parents Camille and Brian, his sister Erin, his brother Eric, and Sherry – Brian's partner in life and vocation: On behalf of all the men and women of the New York City Police Department, I extend to you my most profound condolences.

In the very early hours of last Sunday, the NYPD sent Officer Brian Mulkeen out to do a job. It's a job that he had already done exceptionally well for seven years: battling against the flood of illegal firearms and violent gang activity that plagues too many of our neighborhoods.

It's a stressful, hazardous – and, unfortunately, many times thankless – job. One that not many people are able or willing to do. But, thankfully for the people of the Bronx, Brian was willing. And he was great at it.

As a Borough Anti-Crime cop, it was Brian's job to get illegal guns off the street. It was his job to pursue the most violent, most dangerous criminals in New York City, to put his safety on the line each and every day and, ultimately, to make all the people in the Bronx safer.

It takes a tremendous amount of courage and skill to do the work Brian and his team were so adept at doing – the type of courage that you really don't expect people to possess, much less display every single day and night.

Most ordinary people, when faced with a life-threatening situation, would have the instinctual reaction to run away. Self-preservation is at the very core of human psychology. But Brian was anything but ordinary.

What he accomplished in his short time on the job, and at just 33 years old – regularly taking loaded guns off the street and locking up society's main drivers of violence and disorder – was nothing short of extraordinary.

So when you have someone like Brian, whose job it is to protect others by actively seeking out dangerous situations and dealing with violent threats head-on, it's a special thing. And Brian was a special person.

That's why, when the neighborhood in and around the Edenwald Houses in the Bronx was beset by gang and crew violence and multiple calls of shots-fired, Brian and his partners went to work.

We sent them there because the people in that neighborhood needed their help. They needed to feel safe. And they deserved to live their lives without fear for themselves and their families. So they turned to the NYPD, and they asked cops like Brian to protect them.

And that's exactly what Brian did. He did his job and he didn't think twice about it – he didn't hesitate – because he was a cop. And cops are special people.

When we look at Brian's life – a phenomenal one sacrificed in service to the people of our great city – we see an unwavering dedication to the community. We see a man who made a conscious decision to leave a good job in order to put the lives of others above his own.

We see a committed public servant – a cop, a son, a friend. We see a person who cared deeply for complete strangers – even those he had arrested – because that was his calling.

And we see a police department and a city in unimaginable pain, because that person has been taken from us. Officer Brian Mulkeen is gone – but he will never be forgotten. Because as long as the NYPD exists, we will forever honor him, every day, by continuing the work he died doing.

Like Brian did, we vow to always stand against fear, violence, and anyone who dares to threaten us. We vow to be relentless in our pursuit of the gangs and crews who traffic in this violence and fear, and we vow to work tirelessly against the scourge of illegal guns on our streets.

And, like Brian did, we will comfort the frightened, we will empower the weak, and we will protect the vulnerable. That was Brian's job. And it's our job – every day.

But first – on this day – we have another job. We are here to honor our hero and to comfort a family, a department, and a city, a state, and a nation in mourning. We're here to begin to process our pain and to cope with our frustration. And we are here to celebrate the life of an absolutely remarkable man.

As Police Commissioner, this is the hardest thing I have to do – and I've done it too many times: Paul Tuozzolo, Steven McDonald, Miosotis Familia, Brian Simonsen, and now, Brian Mulkeen.

These are the names I repeat to myself every day. These are the families I wish I'd never met – certainly under these circumstances – but who are now as close to me as my own family.

These are the cops who said goodbye to their loved ones on the way out the door and never came home, because they went out to do a job New Yorkers needed them to do.

They led lives of significance – they made a difference. They went out to fight crime and keep people safe. That's what we asked of them, and they made it their life's mission to the end.

And so the question is, then, "Why do cops do it?"

And the short answer is, "Who else will? No one."

And that's why we will all be back – again and again – to honor them, to pay tribute to their sacrifice, and to celebrate the exceptional lives they've led. And in Brian's case, his certainly was an exceptional life.

Brian was driven by purpose – whether it was during his time working on Wall Street or, before, during his time at Fordham, where he was soon set to return as a volunteer coach. And when he excitedly decided to make the leap to policing, that purpose was renewed.

Saying goodbye to one of our most noble protectors will never get easy. But we are consoled by the fact that we never do this alone. All of us are here for Brian, for his family, and for his fellow cops. And we will always be here for them – together. It's what makes our police family so special: because it is made up of so many special people – people like Brian.

Hundreds are within the walls of this great church today. Thousands more in blue are lined up for miles outside. And we're here together, showing a different kind of courage – one that's needed when you feel angry, frustrated, or discouraged – or when you just can't figure out why. Even at your lowest point, you keep moving forward. Because that's what Brian would do.


Our profession was around long before Brian became a cop in 2013. Even long before his grandfather, Detective Charles Pompa, joined the NYPD in 1954 – who, by the way, retired in 1979 and did another 38 years with the State Police. I can't believe that. I don't know if you shook his hand. Did you shake his hand at the funeral home yesterday? My hand still hurts – and he's 89. God bless you.

And the policing profession will continue long after every one of us here today is gone. It is the type of work Brian decided he must do – and he was infinitely proud to do it.

And his legacy will continue to grow each day – starting right here and now – as Police Officer Brian Mulkeen is promoted to Detective First Grade.

Camille, Brian, Erin, Eric, Sherry – and to all of Brian's loved ones: Your NYPD family – every member of our department – will always be here for you. We know there is nothing we can say or do that will ever ease the pain and sadness you feel today. But that will never stop us from being by your side whenever and wherever you need us.

And to the members of the Bronx Anti-Crime team, and everyone who worked with or knew Brian: We will always be here for you, too. And as every cop knows, one person is responsible for Brian's death. And that's the person carrying a loaded, illegal gun and decided to run from the police. Every cop knows that, and every New Yorker should know that.

His loss left a hole that will never be completely filled, but you won't let his incredible efforts die with him. Because the way to keep Brian a part of you – forever – is to continue what he started. We honor his memory when we pick up where Brian left off. And there's no greater tribute to his life, his service, or his calling.

Brian set the example for you, and for all of us. Our job now is to follow it as best we can. All of this is going to take courage. But we can take some of that courage from Brian, because he certainly had enough to go around.

May God bless Detective Brian Mulkeen. May he live on in the hearts and good deeds of all who knew him. And may God bless and protect every member of the New York City Police Department and law enforcement around the nation, who will forever now carry on his most important work.

Thank you.