New York Daily News

December 21, 2014, 8:26 PM


 

 

EDITORIAL

From grief over police officer killings to honor for NYPD bravery and restraint

 

New York must as one salute Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu as the personifications of all that is right with the NYPD

BY EDITORIAL BOARD

JUSTIN LANE/EPA

Never to be forgotten.
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The two police officers executed by a suicidal loser burning with hatred for cops were exemplary men whose service puts the lie to fashionable depictions of the NYPD as an army of racial oppressors.

Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu devoted their careers to the high calling of protecting New Yorkers. They had abused no one. They had shot no one. Day in and day out, braving dangers shunned by civilians, they had answered the call.

For Ramos, dedication to faith and to the cop’s mission put him on the verge of becoming a Christian chaplain. He cared. Liu cared. Their 35,000 colleagues of the shield care.

New York must stand united in mourning the murders that took Ramos and Liu from their families and from the city. Surely, the weeping will be universal. Surely, grief over the senseless waste of lives will transcend the frictions of the moment.

More, though, is demanded.

With hearts and minds opened, New York must as one salute Ramos and Liu as the personifications of all that is right with the NYPD.

The brave NYPD. The restrained NYPD. The fair and equal NYPD. The true NYPD, not the grotesque characterization of the police department as an overbearing vessel of racial animosity.

In the same spirit of rational civility, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch and Sergeant’s Benevolent Association President Edward Mullins must retreat from their destructive declaration that Mayor de Blasio has blood on his hands because of the double murder.

As more is learned about killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the clearer it becomes that he was driven by long-standing emotional torments having nothing to do with de Blasio.

Still more, those who have found cause to protest the NYPD’s approach to law enforcement must face facts that prove the falsity of their sweeping accusations.

Far from being cowboys, the city’s cops fire their weapons far less frequently than their peers in other large cities.

They pulled the trigger in only 81 instances last year, a record low, while responding to 4.6 million radio runs, including 81,000 reports of weapons, and while making 26,000 weapons arrests.

At the same time, the NYPD has essentially abandoned the stop-and frisk program. Where once the department made almost 700,000 stops annually, this year the number will be 50,000. Similarly, marijuana arrests are down by 60% and complaints of police abuse have fallen sharply.

Criticism of stop-and-frisk, much of it led by candidate Bill de Blasio, cast the NYPD as a racial-profiling operation. The chokehold death of Eric Garner and the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson then confirmed for many that the NYPD shared in an attitude that black lives don’t matter.

Unhelpfully, de Blasio affirmed the notion by saying after the grand jury refused to indict the cop who wrestled Garner to the ground:

“It should be self-evident, but our history requires us to say ‘black lives matter.’ It was not years of racism that brought us to this day, or decades of racism, but centuries of racism. That is how profound a crisis this is.”

The effects are poisonous.

On one front, Lynch and Mullins made their blood-on-his-hands statement. On another front, de Blasio and Commissioner Bill Bratton have been forced to defend quality-of-life policing — broken-windows enforcement — against charges that it discriminatorily puts minorities on a pipeline to prison.

De Blasio’s leadership is sorely being tested. He must wisely and clearly set the record straight about the NYPD, taking care to put tragedies such as Garner’s death in proper perspective.

He must also become the leading voice in a chorus invoked on Sunday by Cardinal Dolan, whose words are printed nearby. At the heart of his message, the cardinal addressed Bratton and Chief of Department James O’Neill, but his sermon applies even more to the mayor.

Dolan asked, “Would you tell your officers that God’s people gathered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral this morning, thundered with prayer with and for them? That we love them very much, we mourn with them, we need them, we respect them and we’re proud of them and we thank them. Will you tell them that?”

You must, Mr. Mayor.