Photo by: Jamie Germano, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
By Joseph Spector, Albany Bureau
ALBANY, NY-- Webster Lt. Michael Chiapperini, who was killed responding to a fire on Christmas Eve last year, was among 16 police officers honored Wednesday at the annual New York State Police Officers Memorial ceremony.
Chiapperini, 43, also a volunteer with the West Webster Fire Department in Monroe County, was killed when a gunman set his Webster home ablaze and then fatally shot two responding volunteer firefighters.
Chiapperini's name was added to the black granite memorial in the Empire State Plaza that lists 1,340 police officers who have died in the line of duty in New York state.
Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said the event helps the coping for the department and Chiapperini's family, who were in attendance.
"It's part of the bereavement; it's part of the healing process for the families and the police departments, which is one extended family, and for the community," Pickering said.
Pickering said Chiapperini joined the force after high school as a dispatcher and worked his way up through the department.
"He was certainly a pivotal part of the department," Pickering said.
The 16 officers honored Wednesday included four who died in the line of duty in 2012, as well as six from Long Island and New York City who died from Ground Zero-related illnesses.
Six people who died prior to 2012 were also recognized, including Monroe County Deputy Sheriff James Conheady, who died in 1947.
Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, the former Rochester police chief, and State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico attended the ceremony, along with a number of state lawmakers.
Assemblyman Mark Johns, R-Webster, introduced resolutions this week at the Capitol to honor Chiapperini and firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka, who was also killed in the incident. Resolutions were also introduced for first responders Joseph Hofstetter and Ted Scardino, who were seriously injured at the scene.
Duffy praised the work of police officers and other first responders.
"We get a chance to sleep at night. We get a chance to go on with our lives because of the sacrifice these men and women have made," Duffy said.