By Michael Letts
Near the end of January this year, three New York City police officers responded to a domestic dispute call in Harlem. The caller hadn’t mentioned any weapons being involved. The police met with a woman and her son in their apartment. The woman said she had been arguing with another son, Lashawn McNeil, who was in a back room.
Officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora went down the hallway to the bedroom. McNeil opened the bedroom door and fired on the officers. The third officer was able to stop McNeil and take him into custody, but Rivera was killed. Mora died four days later.
This incident shows why all police officers not only need personal protective equipment, but they need to use it. It could save their lives.
Rivera’s and Mora’s death didn’t have to happen, but “A 22-year-old son, husband, officer, and friend was killed because he did what we asked him to do,” New York Police Department Commissioner Keechant Sewell said during a news conference.
If men and women are going to put their lives on the line to protect us, then the citizens they serve need to have their backs. New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, may be a politician who understands that.
She met with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg after the funeral. Reports are that Hochul was not happy with Bragg’s work and let him know it.
According to the New York Post, Hochul told Bragg that “safety and justice must go hand-in-hand.” This sounds like the governor wants to make sure that the thousands of New York City police officers are kept safe while Bragg pursues his leftist policies.
Sadly, this won’t be possible since it is the leftist policies that are making both police and citizens unsafe. The policies have emboldened criminals and left police with their hands tied over how they can intervene in situations and what actions they can take. They are faced with having the media and politicians armchair quarterback decisions they have to make in a split second. Make the wrong choice and the police might be ones in jail or worse, dead.
Hochul did tell Bragg she will “continue to work with all of our District Attorneys, Mayor [Eric] Adams, the NYPD and every New Yorker who is working to restore our sense of security and enforce our laws.” She made clear to the DA that she had the full constitutional authority to force him to change his policies, which are considered by many as soft on crime. It’s not a route she wants to go, seeing as how interparty fighting would not play well in media, but the fact that she told him, “I have options, but I will be monitoring the situation very closely” is heartening.
Maybe it was the sight of the thousands of police officers and citizens who lined the streets around St. Patrick’s Cathedral to pay their respects to Rivera that struck a note with the governor. Despite what the media and activists are claiming, the public supports the police and wants to see crime rates falling, not increasing.
Rivera’s widow, Dominique Luzuriaga, summed up the public’s position, saying, “The system continues to fail us. We are not safe anymore, not even members of service. I know you were tired of these laws, especially from ones from the new DA. I hope he is watching you speak through me right now. I’m sure all of our blue family is tired too, but I promise your death won’t be in vain. We’ll take the watch from here.”
Bragg released a memo on January 3, 2022, that announced how his department will be loosening their sentencing policies. There will be no prison time in any case unless the defendant is found guilty of murder, other violent felonies, sex offenses, major white-collar crimes, or crimes that involve the death of a victim.
It will be interesting to see who will back down as this moves forward because one thing is certain: crime will continue in New York City.
Michael A. Letts is the CEO and Founder of In-VestUSA, a national grassroots non-profit organization helping hundreds of communities provide thousands of bulletproof vests for their police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship, and fundraising programs.