The last thing a bunch of Red Sox-loving police officers expected to see at their station last month was a bouquet of flowers from the New York Yankees. But that’s exactly what greeted them — a gesture from the team in honor of Sean Gannon, a Yarmouth, Massachusetts, officer shot and killed while serving a warrant in Cape Cod.
“That is a class move, and it meant a lot to us,” Frank Frederickson, the Yarmouth police chief, told The New York Times. “All the guys came down and wanted to see it. They were like, ‘Are you kidding me?’”
The gift was part of a long-running Yankees’ program that sends sympathy flowers to the funerals of officers killed in the line of duty.
The program began decades ago in the New York metro area, but in 2015, Sonny Hight, the Yankees chief security officer and a former detective in the New York Police Department, expanded it to a nationwide effort.
“I just thought, hey, this guy deserves to be recognized for his sacrifice,” Hight said. “We should at least send some flowers acknowledging it.”
The goal of the project, according to The Times, is to “deliver flowers to the funerals or station houses of every officer killed in action nationwide… The Yankees’ process for sending flowers is informal. Usually it begins after Hight or someone else in the organization hears about an officer killed in the line of duty. It is then brought to the attention of Todd Letcher, a former F.B.I. agent who serves as the Yankees’ executive director for stadium security. Letcher researches the case and passes the information to Debbie Nicolosi, a Yankees employee since 1973, who finds the names and addresses, and arranges for the flowers and cards to be delivered.”
“We don’t even know how many we have sent,” Nicolosi said. “It can sometimes be as many as twice a week.”
Read more about the program, how it connects with former owner George Steinbrenner’s longtime passion for law enforcement support, and the reactions of family members and fellow officers around the country upon receipt of the flowers.