Dozens of families gather to support one another at annual holiday party for loved ones of fallen NYPD officers


New York - A special holiday party was held on Saturday for the families of the NYPD who lost loved ones in the line of duty.

As CBS2’s Lisa Rosner reports, multiple generations connect there, forming lifelong bonds and supporting each other.

Patriotism, honor, tears and love filled the room at Russo on the Bay in Howard Beach, Queens.

Every year for 43 years, Grace Russell has attended the annual holiday party organized by the Police Benevolent Society and the Detective Endowment Society. Her husband, Officer Michael Russell, was killed in the line of duty at the age of 30 in 1979.

“My son is 44,” Russell said. “He was 1 when his father was killed, and my daughter was 3 1/2.” “We never forget… It’s like a little kid on the night before Christmas, you want to see the same people and have such a shared history.”

Rita Williams’ husband, Det. Keith Williams was killed in the line of duty 33 years ago. Throughout the year, she says, there is a scholarship fund in his name, but connecting with others at the annual ceremony gives her a deeper purpose.

“This got me,” she said. “You get to reunite with people who have been there from the beginning.”

Sunny Liu brings her daughter Angelina, 5, every year. Leo gave birth to Angelina with preserved sperm from her late husband, Det. Wenjian Liu, who was shot and killed in Brooklyn along with teammate Det. Rafael Ramos in their patrol car in 2014.

“The first time I brought her to a birthday party… when she was born, I wanted her to know that she’s not the only kid doing her homework. That’s what we’re here for,” Leo said. “We look forward to this every year.”

After the event, each family will go home with PBA gift bags for the holidays.

“We want you to maybe smile through your tears,” said Pat Lynch, president of the American Business Association. “We know it’s hard.”

NYPD Commissioner Kishant Sewell said, “You are what energizes us. Whether it was 1967 when we lost someone, 1971, this year or 100 years ago, we will come together as a family every year.”

More than 80 families of all ranks gathered to see the people they now call the Family.

The event is paid for by the widow and children’s money from the police unions.