[Photos by TIFFANY YOON/CLICK TO ENLARGE]
BY NICK POWELL METRO CORRESPONDENT The steady martial drumbeat of rain provided a suitably dreary backdrop as Philadelphia finest — most dressed in matching yellow rain coats and broken into double-file parade formations — poured into The Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul this morning for the viewing of the body of slain Philadelphia police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski. Hundreds of policemen from the city, state, and surrounding townships were present for the viewing, as well as some New Jersey State Police, all in full-dress finery for the occasion. Outside the cathedral, a video montage with images of Sgt. Liczbinski was on display, showing pictures of him with his friends, family, and co-workers. Tents were set up in front of the video screen for people to watch after the viewing, and around the corner, Philadelphia’s finest reminisced and chatted about their colleague over muffins and coffee. Inside the Cathedral, the mood was increasingly more somber. Friends and family sat with tears streaming down their faces, while the officers of Sgt. Liczbinski’s precinct stood stoic as mourners walked past the open casket, crossing themselves and saying silent prayers. The body of the sergeant, adorned in his uniform and badge, could not be viewed for more than a couple of seconds due to the massive volume of people.
There was a notable lack of Philadelphia citizens at the viewing. Policemen and family dominated the mourners, and the only notable citizen presence was the few who watched the proceedings from the outside of the cathedral, choosing not to venture in to see the body. Susan Guest, a 49-year old Philadelphia resident, part of the aforementioned minority, expressed her sorrow at having another police officer murdered, but also felt that the blame should go to the police force and beyond. “I think the people in position of authority in the police department and the government have to answer for this. Had the officer had another officer with him or the proper equipment to protect him, this could have been prevented.” Ms. Guest also discussed the lack of officer presence in the streets, and the subsequent feeling that Philadelphia citizens are not safe walking these streets. “There are not enough new classes for policemen and firefighters, and as a result there are not an adequate amount of police officers in the streets. I feel very unsafe.”