John Timoney: A Policeman, Hero & Everything Donald Trump Is Not


The top cop’s life, accomplishments and very demeanor stand as a vivid antidote to the toxic behavior of another man from New York City.”>

Up on the fourth floor of the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home on Madison Avenue, there were at least 300 stories standing in a long line that had formed by 2:30 on Monday, a soft, summer day in Manhattan. The stories were told mostly by men who worked for, with or alongside a magnificent and honorable policeman named John Timoney who was claimed by cancer at the age of 68 a few days earlier and now lay in wake as hundreds lined the sidewalk outside waiting patiently to pay their respects.

John Timoney was a sentinel of the city. And his life, his accomplishments and his very demeanor stand as a vivid antidote to the toxic behavior of another man from New York City who manages to incite a fear of the future by constantly hinting or even claiming that America is being stolen by some who do not belong here or rigged by some others in political power.

Timoney rose to the very top of the New York City Police Department in the 1990s as First Deputy Commissioner and Chief of Department under Bill Bratton. He was then Commissioner in Philadelphia and Chief in Miami and at every single stop he changed policing for the better of both the cops and the civilians who sought their services.

But his story is far bigger than the sidewalks he strolled as a patrolman or the cities and the people he swore to protect and never, not ever, let down. It began in spring 1961 when John Timoney, 13 years old, left Dublin, Ireland, with his family and landed in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.

On the 4th of September that year a young patrolman, Francis Xavier Walsh, was shot dead trying to stop a robbery in a Chinese grocery store on 8th Avenue in Harlem. Walsh and his family lived on West 171th Street and his funeral Mass was held on Sept. 8 up the block from where John Timoney and his new best friend in America, Tommy Hyland, lived.

Now it was nearly 10 a.m. and the sounds of 20 motorcycles coming slowly down the avenue pierced the mid-morning air. The bike cops were followed by a Chrysler hearse carrying a flag-draped casket, an American flag with green stripes and white stars.

The NYPD Emerald Society Pipes and Drums band followed the hearse playing a dirge. Then the black cars filled with family pulled to the curb and Msgr. Robert Ritchie, Rector of St. Patricks, came down the steps to greet them and lead them through the open doors of the church.

Msgr. Ritchie came from the Bronx and, like Timoney, went to Cardinal Hayes High School there. Like Timoney, Ritchie became fluent in Spanish. And the two of them, the priest and the policeman, had an acute understanding of what its like to be poor or newly arrived in a land where you are surrounded by glamour and wealth and celebrity. Two men together, saving souls and lives.

The Catholic funeral Mass is a splendid, holy spectacle and St. Patricks Cathedral is famous throughout the world. The service took place on a morning when the heat and humidity surrendered to a fine breeze and a cloudless August sky and the spectators stood on the sidewalk comfortably observing the scene just a few blocks south of Trump Tower.

Get The Beast In Your Inbox!
By clicking "Subscribe," you agree to have read the TermsofUse and PrivacyPolicy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason

Now the Mass had ended. The air of incense surrounded the casket and floated throughout the cathedral. The big crowd filed to the street. The family followed. The church doors remained open wide. The crowds on the sidewalks stood, hushed. The pallbearers came down the middle aisle, down the steps, marched to the back of the Chrysler hearse and gently placed the casket down.

Two buglers played America the Beautiful. The flag was folded and presented to Timoneys wife, Noreen. Six NYPD helicopters flew in slow formation in the sky above Fifth Avenue. Hundreds of white-gloved police officers snapped to attention and saluted.

Then, this man of the city, this man of America, this boy who arrived from Ireland to grab and hold on to everything the land stands for and still symbolizes around a world aflame with hostilities, was taken away to be buried.

His name was John Timoney, honorable policeman, American and someone who left a lasting impression of all that is good about the job he loved and the land he served.

Read more:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here