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'He was always there to help'

Hundreds gather to honor NYPD cop from Elmont

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When he was not riding his motorcycle or working on his vehicles, New York Police Department Highway Patrol Officer Marc St. Arromand, 42, would spend his time joking around and playing pranks on his friends and family. Cecilia, Marc’s wife, remembered how he would always sneak around their house in Elmont, waiting around every corner to jump out and scare her. Every time the scare would prove successful, he would let out his thunderous laughter, a laugh so distinct that it left itself ingrained in the minds of anyone who ever heard it.

It was these types of stories about Marc’s humor and kindness that friends and families shared inside the Burns Memorial Church of God while dozens of NYPD officers stood outside in the rain, quietly saluting Marc’s casket as it entered the church on April 20. St. Arromand, a father of five and a 14-year veteran of the force, was killed in a motorcycle accident on the Laurelton Parkway in Queens, on April 11. As loved ones and coworkers filled the church’s seats, they mourned and celebrated the life of the proud officer and caring father who touched all their lives.

“I never thought I would have to be here,” Cecilia said. “You’re gone, and all that’s left is memories, and these memories leave me in tears.”

St. Arromand was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Aug. 17, 1976. His sister, Soeurette Benjamin, said she always remembered her brother as a little boy playing with toy cars, and the police ones were always his favorite. It wasn’t too long until his infatuation with the blue and white vehicles evolved into a love for law enforcement, and it became clear to everyone around him that St. Arromand would one day become an officer.

“Whenever cops would drive by, he would run out to see them,” Benjamin said. “He’d shake hands with police officers whenever he could.”

When his family moved to New York City in 1986, they settled in Brooklyn among the growing Caribbean-immigrant community there. And although it took some time, including long days working as a parking attendant while attending night school, Marc eventually made his dream come true when he graduated from the police academy in 2005.

Fellow NYPD Officer Clive Thomas met Marc back in 2013, when their mutual love of motorcycles brought them together at the NYPD’s Wheel School program. Thomas, who was also a Caribbean immigrant, found that Marc was always happy to talk and goof around with him, with an on-going joke revolving around an old BMW car Marc was fixing up as he commuted to work.

Thomas said that Marc always carried bottles of antifreeze with him in order to start up the “infamous car.” Then one day Thomas spotted the BMW pulled over to the side of the Belt Parkway. When he asked Marc what the problem was, Marc replied, “You know what the problem is. I can only get five-miles-per-bottle, and I’m all out of bottles.”

“I was laughing so hard that I remember motorists were slowing down, thinking I was crazy,” Thomas said. “I drove him home those days, and, in those car rides, I got to experience the type of person he was.”

Thomas described Marc as loyal and hardworking officer. He recalled a time when Marc came into work with a limp, and when Thomas asked about the injury, Marc revealed that one of his legs was swollen. But despite Thomas’s instistance that he should take a sick-day, his friend refused to go home, and told him that as long as he could walk, he would work with a smile on his face.

Benjamin said that her brother was just that kind of person. She described St. Arromand as a man who would never take any shortcuts or cheat, and he would be honest to a fault. She told a story about when Marc first moved out on his own, and he called her one night to complain about a friend who had come to his place high on marijuanna. Benjamin laughed as she recalled how upset Marc was, and she understood then that her brother would never let anyone off the hook when they did something wrong. She called him “a pillar,” whose job it was to provide support and lift others up.

“He was the example to follow in the family,” Ginsley, Sourette Benjamin’s son, said as he cried over his uncle’s death. “He was always there to help me out and pushed me to be a better person.”

Ginsley said that while Marc was a great cop and role model, Marc’s greatest strength was always revealed when he was alone with his family. He reminisced of a time when his family had been left stranded on the side of the road during a blizzard, but rather than feeling worried or afraid, he remembered his uncle joking around and comforting his family as they waited for the storm to end.

Sourette added that Marc would spend his nights talking to her about his family, and lately the focus had been placed on his new-born son, Jason. Marc and Cecile had been planning to introduce their new son to their beloved Burns Memorial Church of God. During Marc’s funeral, while his body was in the church one last time, Cecile fulfilled their wish and presented Jason to their congregation.

“You left me with 5 blessings to cherish,” Cecilia said. “A reminder of how great our love was.”