The Throggs Neck middle school, also known as the Edward R. Byrne School, awards a scholarship every year in honor of its namesake.
“I present the awards to the students every year at M.S. 101 for the Byrne family,” said Deputy Chief Edward Delatorre, who takes time out his busy schedule at police headquarters to help with the event.
“I was a sergeant at the time, when it happened, and very active in the schools,” Delatorre stated, explaining his connection to the case.
“I was on the original committee to name the school after him.”
The school’s principal, Kim Lisa Hampton-Hewitt, said the eighth grade class will write essays as part of their English-language arts requirement to honor the fallen officer.
“The writing project affords opportunities for debate about gun laws and inner city living,” Hampton-Hewitt noted. “The students write about something real to them.”
Hampton-Hewitt said some of the children lost family members to gun violence, making the topic of P.O. Byrne’s murder particularly profound.
Byrne was parked outside a house protecting a witness, a Guyanese immigrant whose report of illegal activities in Jamaica, Queens in 1988, led to his home being firebombed, when the slaying occurred.
While on guard duty in his patrol car, four members of a drug gang shot him five times in the head.
This year’s essay had a special theme, focusing on the 20th anniversary of the horrible shooting.
“The students wrote a two-page essay on how drugs effect individuals, the community and the impact it had on Officer Byrne,” Monica Harris, also of M.S. 101, said.
The P.T.A. is currently in the process of selecting the three best essays from the eighth grade class.
Winners of the Edward Byrne scholarship receive $500 each.
Principal Hewitt said the essay contest affords an opportunity for students to make real world connection between their coursework and their lives, making the essays written even more powerful.
“Every year [through this essay], we realize how thankful we are to have a police department and it hits home in many ways for the children,” Hampton-Hewitt continued. “We always talk about Officer Byrne.”