Tribute to a Hero

Hun­dreds gath­er to pay trib­ute to fallen po­lice of­ficer Bri­an Lorenzo. 

  • Officer Brian Lorenzo

  • Gone, but never forgotten: Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey presents the flag to Linda Lorenzo that covered her husband’s plaque. BRAD LARRISON / FOR THE TIMES

  • The plaque commemorating Officer Brian Lorenzo. BRAD LARRISON / FOR THE TIMES

  • Officers salute their fallen comrade, Officer Brian Lorenzo, who was killed in July of last year. BRAD LARRISON / FOR THE TIMES

  • Honoring one of their own: Fallen Officer Brian Lorenzo’s son, Dominic, is presented with a patch by cadets training in his honor during a plaque dedication last Wednesday. Lorenzo was killed by an alleged drunken driver on Interstate 95 on July 8, 2012. BRAD LARRISON / FOR THE TIMES

Jimmy Binns has honored 277 fallen po­lice and fire­fight­ers through his Hero Plaque pro­gram since 2001. Every plaque ded­ic­a­tion is a sad oc­ca­sion, but last week’s was the toughest of them all.

Binns and mem­bers of Phil­adelphia’s High­way Patrol paid trib­ute to Of­ficer Bri­an Lorenzo, the former po­lice mo­tor­cycle in­struct­or and Drill Team cap­tain who was killed by an al­leged drunk­en driver on In­ter­state 95 on Ju­ly 8, 2012.

Hun­dreds of po­lice, po­lice re­cruits, re­l­at­ives and friends gathered last Wed­nes­day at the po­lice mo­tor­cycle train­ing course — a flat, paved par­cel of land along the Delaware River com­monly known as the “fil­ter beds” be­cause of its prox­im­ity to a city-op­er­ated wa­ter fil­tra­tion plant.

The cus­tom­ar­ily ar­tic­u­late Binns, a tri­al at­tor­ney who foun­ded the Hero Plaque pro­gram, was at a loss for words and hold­ing back tears when he ap­proached the po­di­um and de­scribed him­self as “a stu­dent of our be­loved.”

Binns later ex­plained that Lorenzo taught him how to ride a po­lice-style Har­ley Dav­id­son mo­tor­cycle, many of which Binns helped the de­part­ment ac­quire through private dona­tions. As a long­time Drill Team cap­tain, Lorenzo helped Binns or­gan­ize count­less trib­utes to fallen of­ficers and fire­fight­ers. Lorenzo was also the key cog in the Drill Team’s an­nu­al per­form­ances at the Hero Thrill Show, rais­ing schol­ar­ship money for the chil­dren of fallen po­lice and fire­fight­ers.

On top of that, Lorenzo was a reg­u­lar par­ti­cipant in Binns’ hol­i­day meal runs, when High­way Patrol of­ficers de­liv­er meals to the fam­il­ies of fallen po­lice for Christ­mas, Thanks­giv­ing and oth­er spe­cial oc­ca­sions.

“He was my teach­er,” Binns said after the ce­re­mony. “This is our 277th plaque ded­ic­a­tion and he was al­ways there for every oth­er plaque ded­ic­a­tion, the Hero Thrill Show and our hol­i­day meal runs.”

Lorenzo was 48 and a 23-year vet­er­an of the po­lice de­part­ment on Ju­ly 8, 2012, when he fin­ished a late-night shift and was rid­ing north­bound on I-95 to­ward his Somer­ton home. Just be­fore the Cottman Av­en­ue in­ter­change, he saw a sus­pec­ted speed­er. Al­though of­fi­cially off-the-clock, he still had on his uni­form and pulled along­side the speed­ing car to warn the mo­tor­ist. Just then, a wrong-way car struck his mo­tor­cycle head-on, killing him in an in­stant.

“He went out sav­ing a life. It doesn’t get any bet­ter for a po­lice of­ficer,” said Binns, who is in his 70s but is tak­ing form­al po­lice train­ing in Delaware County with the ex­pect­a­tion of be­com­ing a cer­ti­fied of­ficer. “If it wasn’t for ‘B-Lo,’ she would’ve been a stat­ist­ic.”

“He slowed [her] down and took [her] place on the road,” Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Charles Ram­sey said dur­ing the ce­re­mony.

Lorenzo is sur­vived by his wife, Linda, three chil­dren and a broth­er, Manny, who is also a po­lice of­ficer, among many oth­er re­l­at­ives.

“I just real­ized in the past year how many lives Bri­an touched. It’s awe­some and I love it,” Linda Lorenzo said.

Manny Lorenzo noted how ap­pro­pri­ate it was to in­stall his broth­er’s plaque at the mo­tor­cycle train­ing course, al­though the fatal ac­ci­dent site and the High­way Patrol headquar­ters are both miles away.

“He loved be­ing here. This was his of­fice,” Manny Lorenzo said. “It was the ca­marader­ie. That’s what made him love be­ing here.”

The plaque sits at the head of Lorenzo’s old park­ing spot, right in front of the High­way Patrol train­ing of­fice.

“This is the spot. This ex­em­pli­fied everything he was,” Binns said. “And the guys with the Drill Team, they will get to see it every day.”

Nu­mer­ous pub­lic of­fi­cials also paid their re­spects to Lorenzo. State Sen. Mike Stack and state Reps. Brendan Boyle and Kev­in Boyle at­ten­ded, as did May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter’s chief of staff, Ever­ett Gil­lis­on, Dis­trict At­tor­ney Seth Wil­li­ams and FOP Lodge 5 Pres­id­ent John McNesby.

The po­lice academy’s latest group of train­ees, Re­cruit Class 366, has ded­ic­ated its re­gi­men to Lorenzo and presen­ted one of their uni­form patches to the slain of­ficer’s fam­ily. Binns was the primary spon­sor for the Lorenzo plaque. ••

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