By Jessica Easthope
Thousands of police officers from all over the city and people who both knew Officer Jason Rivera and who didn’t, came to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to say a final goodbye to the 22-year-old fallen officer; a young man who set out to dedicate his life to serving and protecting the people of this city and made the ultimate sacrifice.
Kenny Altidor paid his respects the only way he knows how.
The artist has been painting fallen heroes for more than a decade. He painted a picture of Officer Jason Rivera in the hope of getting inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Thursday, to give it to his grieving widow and family.
“I want the world to know this guy’s a hero,” Altidor said. “To see if this can bring some comfort to the family, the NYPD and the community as well.”
And he succeeded, but not before having as many police officers as he could sign the back with messages they never got to say to Officer Rivera.
Officers lined up to write their messages to Officer Rivera and his family, even high-ranking officials like Police Benevolent Association President, Pat Lynch, who said in the wake of his death, “Please join us to mourn Police Officer Jason Rivera as if he was your own flesh and blood. It can’t just be us. The streets can’t just be full of NYC police officers at this funeral. The public has to come. The public has to send a message.”
Rivera was killed in the line of duty last Friday while responding to a domestic dispute between a mother and son one block from the 32nd Precinct where he started his life of service just eight months ago. But, Thursday he was given a sendoff by members of the NYPD who called him their brother in blue and by the Guardian Angels who say Rivera was a hero.
“What happened should have never happened to those two officers, we just want to pay our respects to the family and the NYPD. It’s just tragic, very sad,” said Guardian Angels Patrol Director Benjamin Garcia.
Officer Rivera’s funeral will also be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Friday. Mayor Eric Adams and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell are expected to speak. Cardinal Timothy Dolan will celebrate Mass.