Retired NYPD officer reflects on moving letter from Martin Luther King Jr.

Jim Dolan Image
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Retired NYPD officer reflects on moving letter from MLK Jr
Jim Dolan has the story of a letter from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to an NYPD officer.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A New York cop who was assigned to guard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during a visit to the city in 1965 received quite the thank you from the civil rights icon.

Dr. King was in town to receive an award and Patrolman Richard Farley, only a year or so on the job, was assigned as security.

Farley made such an impression on Dr. King that soon after the visit, he wrote the officer a letter, which he's now showing exclusively to Eyewitness News over 50 years after receiving it.

Everything about the letter evokes another time, like the manual typewriter that produced it and the genuine graciousness of the prose.

Even the envelope as there's no zip code or even a proper address, just 17th Precinct New York.

And somehow that gracious, respectful letter found its way to 25-year-old Patrolman Farley.

"I was very honored to receive it, as you can probably tell since I've had it for 54 years," Farley said.

After his visit, Dr. King returned to the struggle in the south, but a few days later, that letter came.

'I was very fortunate, at one point I was able to just shake hands with him and congratulate him, he said 'Thank you'," Farley said. "And then several days later, I received this letter."

Farley's grandchildren have brought copies of the letter into school to share with their classes.

But his daughter Jen Tucholski didn't even know the story until she was an adult.

"When he showed it to me, I didn't even know, was it real," Tucholski said.

It was real.

Patrolman Farley in time advanced in the NYPD to be in charge of detectives in the 17th Precinct.

There were lots of celebrities he had to protect there, but only one wrote a letter saying thanks.


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