Inside look at the role of the NYPD Ceremonial Unit

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The NYPD Ceremonial Unit is the team behind hundreds of ceremonies honoring their fellow police officers, both in New York and around the country.

"It's our honor to do this, it's simply our honor to do this," said Lieutenant Tony Giorgio, the commanding officer.

In good times and during the toughest moments, they are that shoulder to cry on, representing the NYPD in a way that speaks volumes.

"They just lend a sense of precision, professionalism, they do it each and every day, they're dedicated, it's a sharp unit," said NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill.

The department's Ceremonial Unit is made up of officers who play an intriguing role in hundreds of events, everything from parades to promotion ceremonies.

And they were on hand Wednesday, during Medal Day.

Lt. Giorgio heads up the unit. He says he treasures the moments after ceremonies, that one on one time with families.

"I don't know who the person is but the mere fact they came up to me and said you guys did a good job today," he said.

And they're far-reaching, ambassadors for the NYPD who travel all over the country, supporting strangers during some of their darkest hours.

They've been to hundreds of funerals. "There are some loved ones that they're not ready to let go of yet, so as a comfort we are there to show them we haven't forget, that's the motto for the department..we never forget," said the unit's Mandisha Hamilton.

It's an emotionally taxing assignment. Tony tells me he'll never get used to getting that jarring phone call, that an officer has been killed in the line of duty.

"We do this so much that we have a protocol book, we go right to," said Lt. Giorgio. "Then afterwards when everything is said and done, we reflect on it and reflect on the loss of that officer."

Done with compassion, dignity and grace.

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