More than 30 years after Transit Officer Irma Lozada was shot and killed in Brooklyn — the first female NYPD officer killed in the line of duty — her memory was celebrated as a transit dog named in her honor accepted its police badge on Tuesday.
Zada, a 1-year-old Belgian Malinois from Hungary, will patrol the city with handler Officer Kaitlin Schamberger at her side. Zada was one of 13 Transit Bureau dogs to graduate their four-month training program on Tuesday. All the dogs are named for fallen first responders.
“It’s my way to honor my first female hero who was killed in the line of duty and every time someone asks me her name, I’m prepared to tell her story, who she was and who she is to me,” said Schamberger, who has been a transit officer for 10 years. “[Zada] is a sweet, hardworking dog and I hope we do Irma justice.”
Lozada was killed on Sept. 21, 1984, after she spotted a robbery suspect on the L train in Bushwick and chased him. She was found shot in the head three hours later in a vacant lot.
When young Zada is not working, she lives with Schamberger in New Rochelle where she has her own room.
“It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, and I’m so thankful,” Schamberger added.
Lozada’s first cousin Wilhelm Figueroa, 63, spent 34 years with the NYPD’s photography unit, and said the naming was especially meaningful because of his own links to the police department.
“It helps us perpetuate the memory of a hero. She was one of the fiercest kids I grew up with,” he said, remembering playing hide and seek with her as a child. “She was relentless, she never gave up.
“She’s a hero to our family,” he added. “We will not ever forget her.”
Each family joined the dog named for their loved one on Tuesday as they were called out. One by one they marched to the front of a packed auditorium at the NYPD’s Police Academy in College Point — to cheers and a standing ovation each time.
Other graduates included Palla, named for Officer Paul Pallas who served with the NYPD and Port Authority and died from a Sept. 11-related illness; and Curt, named for Sgt. Michael Curtin, an ESU cop who died on Sept. 11.
The canines will be used mostly for patrol, but are also trained in explosive detection and tracking.
Chief of Department Terence Monahan said that naming the dogs after fallen officers means “fulfilling a solemn promise of the NYPD to never forget.”
“To all our families: we hope that you find comfort in knowing the stories of your loved ones will be shared with countless New Yorkers as these men and women carry out their duties,” he added.