It was a bittersweet ceremony in Buffalo Police Headquarters today, as the department swore in six new officers, toasted the heroic acts of 19 others and said goodbye to a hero who never wore a police uniform:
Georgia D. Woods.
Woods, 40, was shot to death Nov. 10, when she confronted a 14-year-old boy while coming to the aid of a robbery victim in the city's Bailey-Doat neighborhood.
"Obviously, Georgia Woods didn't wear the blue of the Buffalo Police Department," Mayor Anthony M. Masiello told about 150 people. "She decided to make our city better by getting herself personally involved. She was courageous beyond belief."
Police Commissioner Rocco J. Diina and First Deputy Commissioner Crystalea Burns Pelletier presented the Medal of Valor -- the highest civilian award presented by the department -- to Woods' family.
Angela Crawley, one of Woods' sisters, thanked the Police Department for quickly capturing the two suspects, then spoke about the family's loss.
"We love her and miss her, and if possible, this fine award brings us some happiness, just to remember that my sister, Georgia D. Woods, died while helping others," she said.
Crawley also read a statement from her mother, Amelia Terry, who called on New York to give juvenile killers the same punishment they would receive if they were adults.
Terry said she hopes and prays that the 14-year-old boy accused of killing her daughter gets the maximum 25 years-to-life sentence, without probation.
"He knew the gun he had was loaded with bullets, and he knew the gun could kill," she said.
Terry also discussed her love for her daughter.
"There are no words of comfort and nothing to ease my pain and grief for my daughter," she stated. "In my heart, there will always be a sad, empty feeling."
Following that ceremony, Masiello presented the mayor's Award of Merit to 19 Buffalo police officers for their quick-thinking and often courageous acts.
The recipients are Officers George Morlock, Daniel Meegan, Thomas O'Brien, Mark Constantino, Joseph Gramaglia, Mark Alberti, Baudillio Rodriguez, Richard Lopez, Peter Kocol, Tara Wells.
Also, Officers Alex Benitez, Lynn McGrath, Mark Locicero, Jeff Weyand, Karen Quinn, Dawn Lopez, David Poleon, Robert Sheridan and Daniel O'Neill.
The mayor then referred to Woods, the other person honored today:
"We wish that she was here standing with us to receive this award."