Law enforcement agencies gather to mourn passing
of San Francisco Police Officer Nick-Tomasito Birco
Deceased San Francisco Police Officer Nick-Tomasito Birco.
By Pat Murphy
August 2, 2006, 2.00 p.m.
California law enforcement officers today mourned the loss of
San Francisco Police Officer Nick-Tomasito Birco in a Mass of
Christian Burial at St. Mary's Cathedral.
Officiating Archbishop George Niederaurer advised them to look
beyond fear that they could be next.
Archbishop George H. Niederauer casts holy water upon Officer
"Many years ago John McMurray, the protestant theologian,
said this, 'The maxim of illusory religion runs 'fear not, trust
in God, you will see that none of the things you fear will happen
to you,'" Neideraurer began.
"'The maxim of the real religion, on the contrary, is, 'fear
not, the things you afraid of are quite likely to happen to you,
but they are nothing ultimately to be afraid of.'
"I am not a police officer. But if I were, here in Nick
Birco's funeral today, I think I not only would be thinking, 'That
could have been me, or that could be me some day.'
"Ours is a cynical age and we often find a way to undercut
every value, to debase every hero, to ridicule every ideal, but
quietly with no fuss some men and women go out defending us, protecting
us from ourselves and from each other.
"They won't be found on the pages of People Magazine.
"They are generous and brave and sensitive.
"We give thanks for every officer who serves us."
Officers representing agencies from as far away as Salinas, Reno
and Sacramento stood at attention outside the cathedral before
the ceremony began, as a four-story-tall American flag was suspended
between two San Francisco Fire Department ladders.
At the entrance of the cathedral a 9-foot-long surfboard stood
decorated with pictures of Birco, his friends and family, and
of his time served in the Marine Corps.
Birco, a five-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department,
moved to San Francisco from the Philippines when he was 4 years
old and stayed in the Bay Area his entire life.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said Birco chose the most difficult
way to serve San Francisco, by being stationed in the Bayview
district. He also said Birco's death, when a van carrying robbery
suspects slammed into his patrol car, was the result of a senseless
and cowardly crime.
"Nick set a standard for bravery that few can meet, but
many will remember,'' Newsom said. "We will all remember
his smile and his soul.''
Police Chief Heather Fong followed Newsom and extended her condolences
to the Birco family.
She said she did not have the words to describe Birco's character,
but that everyone would "remember the love that guided his
heart in everything he did.''
She also said Birco died while showing his "innate sense
After the funeral attended by 2,400 mourners, a police motorcade
through the city will escort Birco's coffin past the Hall of Justice
on its way to be interred at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.
Bay City News contributed to this report.