By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Police officers from the Twin Cities traveled halfway across the country to honor a fallen New York City officer.

Officer Rafael Ramos and his partner, officer Wenjian Liu, were gunned down while sitting in their squad car in Brooklyn on Dec. 20, 2014. The gunman took his own life.

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Last week, officers from across the country traveled to New York in a show of support for Ramos, his family, and colleagues as he was laid to rest.

Officer Ken Tidgwell was one of the Twin Cities officers who made the 1,300-mile drive. Tidgwell said the reception he and the others got let him know that there are more people who support the work he does on a daily basis than do not.

They were the farthest contingency of officers from the west that traveled to Officer Ramos’ funeral — five from the Minneapolis Police Department and four from St. Paul Police Department.

The 18-hour trip out prepared them for what they would experience once they got to the Empire State.

“We were stopped repeatedly on the way out at gas stations, at toll booths and people were just in awe that people from Minneapolis and St. Paul had cops going out to this funeral in New York,” Tidgwell said.

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Tidgwell said the NYPD, the “big brother” of all police departments, showed great appreciation for their presence. Even those who lived in the Brooklyn neighborhood where Ramos and Liu were killed appeared grateful.

“The reception, it was like family. We were like family to them. There were a lot of hugs and a lot of tears shed by the officers out there,” Tidgwell said, “tears in their eyes as they said thank you to us for being there.”

Tidgwell said he learned police officers do have support from the community and he hopes this tragedy renews a spirit of cooperation between those who serve and the people they protect.

“Hopefully they see a face and a real person behind the badge, a person behind the uniform, and realize that our goal out there is to protect them and to provide a service to them. And if we’re met half way it can only get better,” Tidgwell said.

Tidgwell spent time briefing the four officers who are now on their way to New York City for the funeral of Liu.

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He told them it’s hard to put into words what he felt being a part of an event where the entire country wrapped its arms around the NYPD.

Reg Chapman