Philadelphia Police Officer Adrian Hospedale loves being a cop so much that, if reincarnation exists, he wants to come back in his next life and serve in blue again.
That's what he told the dinner audience at the Swan Caterers, in South Philadelphia, last night, when he became the 24th recipient of the George Fencl Award.
The Daily News sponsors the Fencl Award, given yearly (along with $1,000) to the cop who best embodies the qualities Fencl is remembered for: the compassion, professionalism and dedication that make communities safer and more vibrant places to live.
Hospedale, 43, a beat cop who works along Chester Avenue from 54th to 58th Street, in Southwest Philadelphia, spoke about the importance of keeping his word and preaching his faith.
"I want to show cops are human," he said yesterday. "They do all the things that people do, and uphold the law.
"It's a privilege and an honor," he said of the award. "It feels like winning the Congressional Medal of Honor."
The Daily News also honored finalists Officer Rochelle Bilal, 51, and Lt. Michael Dwyer, 57.
It was the fourth time that Dwyer, a supervisor in the Police Department's Research and Planning unit, was a finalist for the award.
About 100 people gathered for the award dinner, which featured a trio of drums, a keyboardist, and Walter Bell on the flute accompanying the proceedings.
District Attorney Lynne Abraham, Daily News Editor Michael Days, executives from Philadelphia Media Holdings and Philadelphia NAACP President J. Whyatt Mondesire attended the celebration on Water Street near Front Street and Snyder Avenue.
Before the celebration, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told the Daily News, "This is a tremendous honor - and well deserved."
The proceedings took a somber turn when Ramsey reminded the crowd about Officer Ashley Hoggard, who was shot while on duty this weekend, and the Daily News played a memorial video to all the officers who were killed in the line of duty over the past year.
It was also a time to reaffirm the work of many cops in the city. "This award reflects all things right with our department, and there are far more right than wrong," Ramsey said during the ceremony.
"Sometimes it feels like no one is watching," Hospedale said, "but then you realize, someone's always watching." *