FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A memorial service was held on Monday, for an officer who died in the line of duty nearly a century ago.

Why did it take so long for the tribute? As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, there are new rules for who New York honors.

The graveside memorial for the fallen officer was 86 years overdue. William Cramer was killed in the line of duty in 1929, defending New York’s natural resources.

Cramer was one of the early officers now called Conservation Police. He was shot to death patrolling Idlewild woods in Queens, deliberately killed by songbird hunters.

“Where William Cramer enforced the law and placed himself in harm’s way and lost his life in what was 5,000 acre wilderness,” New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright said.

The land around Kennedy airport used to be marsh and forest filled with hunters who had little respect for new animal protection laws. The job of a game protector was dangerous.

“There was some resentment to the fish and game laws, there was an attitude it was there for the taking,” Major Timothy Huss, New York State DEC Police.

Joanne Errico grew up visiting the grave of her great uncle who died at age 42. She was taught that he died protecting birds. He has finally been given an honor befitting his service.

“Wow, after 86 years to have this, it’s a little special to me because it’s family,” Errico said.

“It’s never too late to do the right thing. Never too late,” Joe Errico added.

Peace officers like Cramer are now included on the police memorial wall in Albany.

“It’s better late than never. The problem was, a lot of peace officers were not included on the wall because it was a police memorial,” David Corr said.

The same honors are now bestowed on peace officers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Cramer never married and has no descendants. He was shot seven years earlier on the job, but continued his work as a game protector.



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