Few people were probably surprised when John Pawlowski decided to join the Philadelphia Police Department. After all, he came from a large family of Philadelphia cops. His father, John Sr., is a retired Philadelphia Police lieutenant and now works for the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. Brother Bobby is an officer. Uncle Ken Linneman, a lieutenant. Aunt Mary Linneman, an officer who was in the Academy at about the same time as John Jr. Uncle Fran Ansel, a retired homicide detective.
On Thursday, many of those family members traveled to Washington, DC, to join John Jr.’s wife, Kim; their 10-month-old son, John III; Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, and dozens of Philadelphia Police officers to witness the engraving of the name John Pawlowski on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
Fourteen months earlier, on the night of February 13, 2009, Officer Pawlowski and his partner responded to the report of an argument between a taxi driver and an unruly man in the Olney section of the city. The officers soon located a suspect, but instead of complying with the officers’ orders to show his hands, the gunman opened fire, striking John Pawlowski twice. A member of the 35th District, John had been a Philadelphia cop for nearly six years. At the time of his death, Kim was five months pregnant.
Under crisp blue DC skies on Thursday, Kim; her parents, Ed and Sharon Lee; her sister, Colleen, and other family members were front and center as engravers Kirk Bockman and Jim Lee artfully inscribed Panel 41-West, Line 27. When the two craftsmen removed the sand-blasted stencil and carefully revealed the names, Memorial Fund Chairman and CEO Craig Floyd invited Kim to come forward and do the first rubbing of the freshly engraved name of her husband. She was followed by a steady stream of family members and police personnel, including Commissioner Ramsey; John McNesby, president of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5; and Captain John McCloskey, John Pawlowski’s commanding officer in the 35th.
Toward the end of the ceremony, young John III, with the guiding hand of his mother and other relatives, wobbled forward to the Memorial’s wall, to touch the name of the father—the law enforcement hero—he would never know in person.
Visit the Philadelphia Police Department’s online Memorial to fallen officers.