New York Daily News

July 20, 2016, 6:35 PM



Attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge show police officers need to be better equipped to deal with active shooters


Early Daily News cover

By now, it should be clear to everybody that the dangers that police officers face on the street have reached critical levels. Over the past 10 days, we have seen eight of our brothers ambushed and murdered — and 10 more wounded — in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

Though some may claim otherwise, these attacks are not isolated or random acts. They are part of an escalating pattern of violence that is being fueled by an extremely dangerous and disturbing anti-police climate that has developed in the United States.

NYPD Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were inside their patrol car when they were executed by a cop-hating lunatic in December 2014.  (JAMES KEIVOM/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

New York City police officers experienced this pattern firsthand when Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were assassinated while sitting in their radio car on a Brooklyn street in 2014.

Gavin Long, who served with the Marines, was heavily armed when he opened fire on cops in Baton Rouge, La. (HANDOUT/REUTERS)

Now, even as we stand together with our fellow law enforcement officers to honor the fallen, the NYPD and police departments around the nation are continuing to receive a stream of threats against the lives and safety of police officers. Some are credible; some aren't. But we need to be prepared for all of them.

(L-R) Baton Rouge Police Officer Matthew Gerald, Montrell Jackson and Brad Garafola were killed by gunman Gavin Long in Baton Rouge, La.  (AP)

The chilling reality is that New York City police officers aren't prepared. The average police officer on patrol, the one who answers the 9-1-1 calls in your neighborhood, is woefully ill-equipped to protect herself or himself from a heavily-armed attacker bent on killing as many police officers as possible. Nor is he or she equipped to face down the type of active-shooter attack against civilians that we have seen again and again across the country and around the world.

Officers Rafael Ramos (l.) and Wenjian Liu were assassinated while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn. (UNCREDITED/AP)

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The police officers assigned to your local precinct are equipped with only a 9-mm handgun and a basic bullet-resistant vest designed to stop a low-velocity handgun round. That's it. With that equipment, they're expected to face down attackers who may be outfitted with assault rifles, body armor, explosives, or — as was the case with the Dallas and Baton Rouge shooters — military tactical training.

PBA boss Patrick Lynch said police officers lack the proper equipment to confront attackers packing assault rifles and body armor. (JAMES KEIVOM/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

That is why the NYC Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has repeatedly asked for the NYPD to adequately prepare our members to respond to active shooter attacks by providing police officers on routine patrol with long guns, ballistic helmets, and bullet-resistant vests capable of stopping a high-powered rifle round, along with the appropriate training. We aren't seeking to have a cop with an assault rifle posted on your corner, but this vital safety equipment must be readily available, in the trunk of the patrol car or in the nearest police facility, to be deployed at a moment's notice.

We first requested this equipment after the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008, and we have repeated it after every active-shooter-style attack that has followed. We have noted time and again that NYPD policies dictate that the first police officers on the scene of an active shooter incident — usually officers on routine patrol — must engage and neutralize the threat in order to prevent further loss of life. Unfortunately, our requests have fallen upon deaf ears, despite the fact that state law requires an employer to provide adequate safety equipment.

Instead, the NYPD's response has been to increase the number of specially-armed and trained units. Specialized units are necessary, but experience demonstrates that they are not enough. The NYPD indicates that it is currently able to deploy specialized units to any location in the city within seven minutes, but a 2013 FBI study of 160 active shooter incidents found that 70% of the attacks were over in five minutes or less. The cops on patrol in your neighborhood could be there in half that time, but when they show up, they will be badly out-gunned. The same FBI study found that 47% of police officers who engaged an active shooter were shot themselves, and 20% were killed.

Remember: Police officers are no longer simply responding to these attacks. We are now targets ourselves. Are we really willing to roll the dice and hope that New York City police officers are never placed in a dangerous situation like the ones we have seen these past two weeks? For the sake of our city — for your families and ours — we cannot take that chance.