Police Remember Officer As His Killer Dies In Prison
By: NY1 News
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The convicted killer of a Fort Lee police officer died in prison this past week at the age of 81. NY1's Christina Sico reached out to the police force as they remembered their fallen brother.
For members of the Fort Lee Police Department, September 4, 1966 is a day that will never be forgotten. That's when 26-year-old Officer William Birch was gunned down and murdered by a man who was in the process of robbing what was then the Riviera Motel.
"We will not forget William Birch in the Fort Lee Police Department,” said Fort Lee Police Chief Thomas Ripoli. “Every chief before me has always remembered him and I will continue to do so, also."
Now nearly 41 years after his death, fellow men and women in uniform have made strides to prevent similar situations.
"We teamed up partnerships from 8:00 at night until 7:30 in the morning,” said Ripoli. “Now we have the bullet-proof vests and officers are more trained in these times now in situations like that."
Each year Birch is remembered on Memorial Day with a wreath laying ceremony. A rock was laid in his honor outside the department.
Most recently, the force's new canine was named Birch.
"You try to honor somebody like that any way you can and this is just another way to do so," said canine handler Corey Horton.
Yet another tribute to Officer Birch is the park and recreation center on Stillwell Avenue. The borough of Fort Lee and the police force dedicated it in his honor.
"It's for our officers to remember William Birch so when they go on the street every day they can think what can happen to them if they do not use their training and experience and that the danger is always lurking out there,” said Ripoli.
Officer Birch left behind a wife and three daughters, and now, 21 grandchildren.