University Police Department (UPD) Officers Greg Thompson and Ryan Williams, and SUNY University Police officers from throughout the state, attended the funeral of slain MIT University Police Officer Sean Collier on April 24. Collier was shot on April 18 by suspects in the Boston marathon bombings, according to authorities.
Williams and Thompson prepared for the day by pressing their Class “A” dress uniforms, polishing their shoes, having their patrol vehicle inspected, and personally washing it. They awoke at 3 a.m. in order to meet up with officers from other SUNY Police Departments, including Albany, Buffalo, Buffalo State, Oneonta, Stony Brook, Maritime, and Binghamton. In all, 21 officers attended. After staging in Albany at around 6:30 a.m., the detail left in a motorcade on Interstate 90 to Boston.
“On the way, we saw numerous patrol cars from dozens of agencies all heading to Boston,” said Officer Thompson. “During the service, we were surrounded by thousands upon thousands of police officers from states as far away as California, Kentucky, Florida, Utah, Texas, and even Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The seating filled up the athletic fields.”
Speakers at the memorial service included MIT President L. Rafael Reif, Chief of MIT Police John Difava, Vice President Joe Biden, and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. “Andrew Collier, Sean’s brother, had heartfelt words. He really brought out what Sean Collier was like as a person,” said Thompson. “As we headed back to our vehicles and during our long trip home, we had plenty of time to think about Sean Collier’s life and the life of all of the men and women who choose to serve as police officers. We thought about how every day we risk our lives and how on any given day anything may happen. As we left we were struck by the multitude of American flags and the faces of the people going about their business in Boston. As people looked at us, several times we saw them just start to cry, overwhelmed by the emotion of their experiences in the previous week.”