RANDOLPH, Mass. — Throughout his life, Dennis Simmonds always wanted to be a cop.
“He would see police cars with flashing lights and as a child barely be able to mumble out, ‘Polla-policeman!’ ” recalled his sister, Nicole Alexandra Simmons, at his funeral.
“Well, big brother, you haven’t just become that polla-policeman,” she continued. “You are one of the most honored, respected and now-known polla-policemen in the world.”
The 28-year-old Boston police officer died last week after a medical emergency in the police academy gym in Hyde Park. He was remembered Thursday at a funeral Mass here in Randolph.
Simmonds joined the police force in 2008, and was assigned to its Allston-Brighton office.
“I’m sure that was way too slow for him,” said police Commissioner William Evans, the district’s former captain. “And then he went to Mattapan and he worked tirelessly to make that neighborhood a safer neighborhood. It’s one of our tougher neighborhoods and he loved working there… He was the best.”
Simmonds had received the department’s highest honor, the Schroeder Brothers Memorial Medal, for his actions during and after the Boston Marathon bombing.
He was one of the first officers on the scene during the Watertown manhunt for the two suspects, and he suffered a head injury during the chaos.
At this week’s ceremony marking the one-year anniversary since the bombings, Vice President Joe Biden implied that that injury may have played a part in Simmonds’ sudden death.
“Dennis Simmonds,” Biden said, “who put his life on the line last year in a shootout to hunt down the killers, he suffered a severe head injury and ultimately he succumbed.”
It remains unclear how Simmonds died. His family declined to have the medical examiner perform an autopsy, but police officials say they will conduct an internal investigation to see if his death was caused by injuries suffered almost a year earlier.