The wail of distant police sirens could be heard Sunday afternoon at the start of the 100th anniversary gathering to pay tribute to fallen Buffalo Patrolman Herman A. Radel.
It was an unlikely coincidence at the Delaware Park ceremony, which a century ago could not have been imagined when Radel and Patrolman Fred Pauley were killed in a police car chase. Back then, in 1919, most officers patrolled either on foot or on horses.
Packed onto the Marcy Casino patio — not far from where the patrolmen were killed at Delaware Avenue and Nottingham Terrace when they were thrown from their vehicle against a tree — some 80 descendants and another 80 friends listened to elected officials and police brass praise Radel.
Mayor Byron W. Brown and Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn thanked the Radel family for keeping alive the memory of their ancestor, and by extension, all officers who make the ultimate sacrifice. The Radel family had attempted to locate members of the Pauley family to join in the tribute, but were unsuccessful.
Deputy Police Commissioners Joseph A. Gramaglia and Barbara Lark also offered gratitude, saying Sunday's event was a tribute not only to Radel and Pauley but to the 49 other city officers killed in the line of duty since 1865.
Capturing the essence of the unlikely gathering, Police Commissioner Byron C. Lockwood told the Radels: “His life now lives in you.”
Taking it all in from the front row “seat of honor” was 95-year-old Margaret Radel, the oldest living member of the Radel clan. She is the widow of the patrolman’s youngest child, Arthur. With a vase of white roses on a table beside her, she beamed as she accepted an American flag that was part of the department honor guard’s opening ceremony.
Tracy Cegielski, a great-granddaughter and head of the Buffalo Police Department's computer operation, accepted a proclamation honoring Radel from the mayor.
“I didn't know about my great-grandfather until my Grandpa Art told me when I started with the police department in 1994,” Cegielski said. “I thought it was kind of cool I could keep up the family tradition, even though I’m not a sworn officer.”
At the end of the ceremony, Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards confirmed that the distant police sirens were unplanned.
But the sirens fit in, a symbol that police work continues no matter what.