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Honoring police hero Jimmy O’Connor

Plaque placed at FOP Lodge 5 in honor of fallen Philly police officer.

TOM WARING / STAR PHOTO

Several hundred people braved heavy rains Friday morning to pay tribute to fallen police Cpl. Jimmy O’Connor.

A plaque was dedicated in O’Connor’s memory outside Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, 11630 Caroline Road.

O’Connor, of Millbrook, was working as a member of SWAT when he was shot to death on March 13 as he was serving a fugitive murder arrest warrant at 1688 Bridge St. in Frankford.

That fugitive, Hassan Elliott, is charged in O’Connor’s killing, thanks to an investigation by police homicide detectives. A preliminary hearing for Elliott and three co-defendants was in its second day last week when it was continued after a defense attorney went into labor.

O’Connor, posthumously promoted to sergeant, is survived by wife Terri; son and daughter-in-law, James V and Nicole, both police officers; daughter Kelsey, who is in the Air Force; and 12-month-old granddaughter Callie.

A funeral Mass took place in May at Our Lady of Calvary, but attendance was restricted due to the coronavirus. The plaque dedication allowed many more people to show their respect to O’Connor.

Terri O’Connor spoke at the plaque dedication, along with FOP president John McNesby, plaque program founder Jimmy Binns, U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and the Rev. Steve Wetzel, the FOP chaplain.

Plenty of uniformed officers filled the front lawn of the FOP.

“I can’t thank Jimmy’s SWAT team members enough,” Terri O’Connor said.

Others in attendance included City Councilmen Brian O’Neill and Bobby Henon, state Reps. Martina White, Mike Driscoll and Ed Neilson and state Sen. John Sabatina Jr.

The plaque is the 121st for police officers and deputy sheriffs killed in the line of duty. It reads, “In memory of SWAT Corporal Jimmy O’Connor. Killed in the line of duty protecting the citizens of Philadelphia on March 13th, 2020. Dedicated by his family and friends.”

O’Connor, a Kensington native and North Catholic High School graduate, was a member of the police department for 23 years, including 15 in SWAT. He comes from a family of public servants. His dad is a retired longtime member of the police department, and he has cousins serving as cops and dispatchers.

Speakers at the dedication praised O’Connor for following the police motto of honor, integrity and service. They described him as a family man and hard worker who would help anybody at any time. He was dedicated to his job, they said, and a hero for protecting the people of the city, adding that Philadelphians should be grateful to him and never forget his sacrifice.

“May his memory be a blessing,” Shapiro said.

Terri O’Connor recalled Friday, March 13, the date of her husband’s death, as a rainy day. After enduring two days of a preliminary hearing earlier in the week, she was not surprised that the plaque dedication took place in torrential downpours.

Still, she was overwhelmed by the turnout and heartened by the love shown to her husband.

“He was my everything,” she said.

The ceremony ended with the playing of Amazing Grace by the Philadelphia Police and Fire Pipes and Drums. ••

 

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