Northeast Times

He shall never be forgotten

Plaque is ded­ic­ated to Of­ficer John Pawlowski, who paid the ul­ti­mate price while pro­tect­ing the people of our city.

(left) John Pa­lowski, 2, with his moth­er Kim­berly Pa­lowski, leave a rose at the plaque ded­ic­ated to Of­ficer Pa­lowski, who was whot 2 years ago, Wed­nes­day, May 11, 2011, Phil­adelphia, Pa. Of­ficer Pa­lowski was John’s fath­er and Kim­berly’s hus­band. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

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On a day when nobody could’ve blamed Kim Pawlowski for choos­ing not to step up to the lectern to ad­dress a crowd of hun­dreds, she al­most chose not to do it.

But with the Phil­adelphia Po­lice and Fire Pipes and Drums band belt­ing out its rendi­tion of amaz­ing grace and the throng of her late hus­band’s col­leagues, friends and fam­ily about to dis­perse, Kim Pawlowski could re­main si­lent no longer.

She had to ex­press her grat­it­ude to those who sup­por­ted Of­ficer John Pawlowski in life and have con­tin­ued to sup­port the slain of­ficer’s fam­ily in the wake of his hero­ic death.

“I ap­pre­ci­ate every­body’s sup­port, and I want to thank some people,” Kim Pawlowski said at the con­clu­sion of a May 11 ded­ic­a­tion ce­re­mony for a bronze plaque me­mori­al­iz­ing her hus­band.

The plaque is em­bed­ded in the side­walk at Broad Street and Ol­ney Av­en­ue, where a would-be mug­ger shot the of­ficer to death on Feb­ru­ary 13, 2009.

Kim Pawlowski thanked at­tor­ney Jimmy Binns, who foun­ded the Phil­adelphia Hero Cop pro­gram, which has placed 94 me­mori­al plaques around the city since 1991.

She also thanked the re­l­at­ives of oth­er slain po­lice of­ficers, Fraternal Or­der of Po­lice Lodge 5 pres­id­ent John McNesby and mem­bers of the Bul­lets Mo­tor­cycle Club, who were among her hus­band’s most be­loved friends.

Kim Pawlowski then offered her greatest grat­it­ude to her son John III, who was born four months after his fath­er’s death and will turn 2 years old in June.

“He doesn’t know it yet, but someday I’ll let him know that he’s been my rock for the last two years,” the of­ficer’s wid­ow said amid the somber si­lence of the usu­ally bust­ling in­ter­sec­tion.

Of­ficer John Pawlowski, 25, a Port Rich­mond res­id­ent and Park­wood nat­ive, was a six-year vet­er­an of the po­lice de­part­ment. On the day of his death, he was on patrol in the 35th dis­trict when he re­spon­ded to a re­port of a dis­pute in the street out­side of SEPTA’s Ol­ney Trans­port­a­tion Cen­ter.

An un­li­censed taxi driver had called 911 claim­ing that an­oth­er man had tried to rob him. The sus­pect and vic­tim were both at the scene when Pawlowski and his part­ner ar­rived in a patrol car.

After the cab driver poin­ted out the mug­ger, the of­ficers ordered the sus­pect to re­move his hands from his jack­et pock­ets, but he did not com­ply. In­stead, he fired a hand­gun through his cloth­ing. One shot struck Pawlowski in his body ar­mor vest. An­oth­er wounded the of­ficer in the side, just be­low the armpit, where the vest offered no pro­tec­tion.

Pawlowski died a short time later at Al­bert Ein­stein Med­ic­al Cen­ter. Oth­er po­lice shot the sus­pect, Rasheed Scrugs, who re­covered from his wounds, was con­victed of first-de­gree murder and sen­tenced to life in pris­on.

“These things make ab­so­lutely no sense,” Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Charles Ram­sey said at the plaque ded­ic­a­tion. “To have that in­di­vidu­al cut down in the prime of his life is something that touches every­one in the city.”

“He didn’t know what was go­ing to hap­pen [when he went to work] that day, but he knew he was go­ing to con­tin­ue be­ing a pub­lic ser­vant to the city,” May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter ad­ded.

Pawlowski was the 254th Phil­adelphia po­lice of­ficer killed in the line of duty, ac­cord­ing to the Of­ficer Down Me­mori­al Page Web site, and the sev­enth in a 33-month span. No Phil­adelphia po­lice have been slain while on duty since Pawlowski’s death.

“The Phil­adelphia Po­lice De­part­ment suffered a sig­ni­fic­ant num­ber of true tra­gedies over a very short peri­od of time,” Nut­ter said. “It’s a con­stant re­mind­er of the chal­lenges of the pro­fes­sion.”

Dis­trict At­tor­ney Seth Wil­li­ams noted that the plaque’s loc­a­tion at a ma­jor hub of the city’s trans­port­a­tion sys­tem and in close prox­im­ity to two pub­lic high schools, along with La Salle Uni­versity, will al­low people from all walks of life to view it and pay re­spect to Pawlowski.

“I think it’s only fit­ting that this plaque be ded­ic­ated here so young and old can come [to see it],” Wil­li­ams said.

“It’s fit­ting that now his leg­acy is woven in­to the fab­ric of the city as a true Amer­ic­an hero,” Binns said.

Pawlowski came from a fam­ily of po­lice of­ficers. His fath­er John Sr. is a re­tired lieu­ten­ant, and his broth­er Robert con­tin­ues to serve on the force.

Dur­ing last week’s ce­re­mony, which was sponsored primar­ily by the Bul­lets Mo­tor­cycle Club, Ram­sey in­stalled John III as the de­part­ment’s new­est “ju­ni­or po­lice of­ficer” by pin­ning a small badge onto his shirt.

Dea­con Ger­ald Whartenby of St. An­selm Par­ish in Park­wood, who per­formed the mar­riage of John Jr. and Kim, urged fam­ily and friends to cel­eb­rate the slain of­ficer’s life.

“The beauty of this day will be the memor­ies that will con­tin­ue to last forever from this day for­ward,” Whartenby said. “It was a bless­ing from God that the Pawlowskis came in­to my life and it will al­ways con­tin­ue to be.” 

Re­port­er Wil­li­am Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or bkenny@bsmphilly.com

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You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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