By Assemblyman Will Barclay
I, like almost everyone, was sadden and troubled when I heard about the two NYC police officers who were assassinated last weekend.
They were shot as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn by a deranged man named Ismaaiyl Brinsley.
Prior to the shooting, Brinsley apparently had posted on his social media account that he was going to kill police officers in revenge for the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases.
The Garner and Brown cases sparked demonstrations around the country.
It has been reported that at these demonstrations (and in other social outlets such as social media) anti-police rhetoric was strongly expressed and that the organizers of these events did little or nothing to stifle such rhetoric.
Indeed, it has been claimed by some that organizers actually encouraged the anti-police rhetoric.
This is tragic because no matter how you feel about the Garner and Brown cases, hatred towards individual police officers is wholly unwarranted.
Even more tragic, apparently the killer Brinsley felt like he needed to act on this rhetoric.
During this time when there has been a lot of police bashing, it is important to point out all the positive things our police officers do that get little, if any attention.
For starters, the crime rate in New York has steadily declined since 1990.
We hold the rank of the safest large state and New York City is one of the safest major cities in the nation.
Keeping violent criminals in prison longer, expanding the DNA database, Megan’s Law (requiring sex offenders to register among other things), civil confinement of sexually violent predators, and implementation of Operation IMPACT (an enforcement tactic which assigns more resources and officers to high crime areas) have all contributed to a safer state.
While some of it is thanks to public policy, the enforcement is all thanks to police.
In 2011, homicides in New York totaled 769 but in 2013, homicides statewide dropped to 642.
Murders in New York City declined 41 percent over the past decade.
This is because of investigations and protections put in place by police.
The media tends to overlook the safety they provide on a regular basis and many are guilty of taking the service they provide for granted.
Thankfully some of the more heroic deeds do make headlines.
In Syracuse earlier this year, two police officers successfully secured a man who had a loaded, stolen pistol and was ready to use it in public after it became clear he was recognized by police.
He was wanted on four warrants.
In another story, an off-duty police officer saved a baby from choking recently in Nevada.
The officer took the child from the father and quickly performed a reverse Heimlich maneuver on the child.
Another off-duty New York State trooper saved a man from a burning gas station before his car went up in flames this summer in Westchester County.
The driver had reportedly gone into diabetic shock and crashed into a gas pump, which quickly caught on fire.
Our police officers constantly put their lives at risk to save others and most deserve our respect and admiration.
Our families and neighborhoods are safer because of their work and skill, and many wouldn’t venture to put a price on the service they provide.
My condolences go to the families who have lost loved ones who were police officers killed in the line of duty this year, including the families of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos who were assassinated.
I hope our country can grow from this and focus on helping and respecting the difficult jobs police have.
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.
My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.