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With tributes and salutes, officer is laid to rest

Thousands gathered to say goodbye to Plymouth Police Officer Gregory Maloney.

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Thousands gathered to say goodbye to Plymouth Police Officer Gregory Maloney.

PLYMOUTH — One by one, members of the Police Department here said goodbye in silence to Officer Gregory T. Maloney during a graveside ceremony held Tuesday on the same street where he died in a motorcycle crash a week ago.

Chief Michael E. Botieri was first to say farewell, approaching Maloney’s silver casket and raising his gloved, right hand in a slow salute.

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He then removed his white dress gloves, placed them atop the coffin, and turned away from the burial spot at Vine Hills Cemetery.

Each of Maloney’s fellow officers repeated the ritual as his widow, Susan, clutched his blue motorcycle helmet and the American flag that draped his casket. The couple’s middle-school aged sons, Gregory Jr. and Michael, sat on either side of their mother as the officers made their final salute and his casket was covered in white gloves.

“Gregg Maloney was a true old-fashioned gentleman,” Plymouth Officer Jason Higgins said during his eulogy at St. Peter Roman Catholic Church. “Gregg Maloney was a hero. Gregg died patrolling the streets of Plymouth as he had done faithfully for 17 years.”

He called Maloney “competent, courageous, tenacious, tough, and brave,” joking that even bad guys embraced him and that he was “the best to have a cold one with.”

“We lost a policeman, the best type of policeman there is,” Higgins said. “If you were ever in trouble and you called 911, he was the guy you wanted to show up. He was the guy.”

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Maloney, 44, a motorcycle officer, crashed about 2:15 p.m. April 1 while riding on Samoset Street near the entrance of Plymouth Mobile Estates, Plymouth police have said.

A medical helicopter took him to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where he died, police said.

At the time of the accident, Maloney was on patrol with another motorcycle officer, but his motorcycle was the only one that crashed, police said. Botieri has said there was no obvious explanation for the crash, which remains under investigation.

Motorcycle officers from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island lined Samoset Street in salute as Maloney’s body was driven a short distance from the church to his final resting spot.

Governor Deval Patrick; Senate President Therese Murray, a Plymouth Democrat; Attorney General Martha Coakley; and Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz were among the public officials at Maloney’s funeral.

Maloney was a graduate of Plymouth-Carver High School and held bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Western New England University. He joined the police force in 1997 and was named to the motorcycle unit when it was reestablished in 2009. Botieri called him the force’s “best motorcycle operator.”

“Law enforcement’s job is to fix things,” Botieri said. “That is what we do. But we cannot fix this, and it hurts. The reality is we cannot make sense of the tragic loss of such an outstanding man.”

The Rev. William G. Williams told mourners that “death is very much with us these days,” as people mourn Maloney, two Boston firefighters killed in the Back Bay, the passengers aboard missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, and those killed or injured nearly a year ago during the Boston Marathon bombings.

“We shouldn’t be here today,” Williams said. “None of us wants to be here, but here we are.”

During his eulogy, Higgins asked Maloney’s sons to stand. He then addressed officers seated in the pews, asking them to stand if they planned to look after the boys.

Every officer in the church stood up.

“You will never be alone,” he said.

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.

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