An NYPD officer played Taps as officers from Queens and the NYPD Ceremonial Unit paid final respects to a trailblazing woman.
Mollie Gustine joined the NYPD back in 1963 at a time when there were very few African-American women on the police force. She eventually became a detective and one of the first women to be a union delegate for officers and detectives.
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Detective Tanya Duhaney, who is part of the Community Affairs Bureau, met Gustine about two years ago and was inspired by her story.
"I’m truly going to miss my friend. I’m going to miss her," Duhaney said.
In early March, I interviewed Ms. Mollie as many people called her to learn more about her history. I also found out she was a pianist who loved music.
During our interview, she joyfully performed some gospel, soul and classic tunes like "Red Sails in the Sunset."
Sadly, a month after we met, the 90-year-old died from the coronavirus. Family members said they and Ms. Mollie found joy in her talking about her life for the NY1 profile I was working on.
"I'm so appreciative and thankful that she got an opportunity to share a part of her story working with New York City Police Department." her daughter Bonnie Weaver said at the funeral in St. Albans.
"All she kept saying is that, 'Tanya, I want to tell my story. I want to let the world know what the real Mollie Gustine is about,'" Duhaney said. "She told her story. We thank you for being there to listen to her story and put it out there."
It wasn’t always easy being a cop in the 1960s and '70s for Gustine because of racism and sexism. But she said she truly enjoyed the communities she worked in and the fact that she was a cop making a difference
"Part of my job was working undercover," she said during our interview. "In fact, the majority of my assignments were undercover."
Officers and family members wore masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus at the small and somber ceremony for Gustine. Officers presented the family with an NYPD flag.
The family is heartbroken and devastated because they could not be with their matriarch in the last days and hours of her life because of protocols to reduce the spread of the virus.
"To some people, she was Grandma Dukes, Mollie Gustine, Police Officer Gustine," Weaver said. "But she is my mom, she will always be my mom, and that is who I’m going to miss, my mom."
Officers and family members say they are going to work hard to try to keep Mollie Gustine’s legacy and memory alive.