Here are a few stats from The New York Times (December 30, 2014). Nationwide deaths of police officers on the job increased 25% in 2014, fifty by way of firearms; and very disturbing is the fact that ambush killings went from 5 to 15. As of this afternoon, we can add the death of New York Officer Brian Moore, ambushed in Queens on Saturday night. Officer Moore was 25 years old, the son and nephew of NYPD officers.
New York is the safest large city in the country. Murder rates have plummeted in the past 20 years. But the murder rate for New York Police Officers since December, if one includes the ambush of officers Ramos and Liu, is increasing dramatically. And, if one goes across the Hudson and includes the ambush of Jersey City officer Melvin Santiago last July, that totals four in less than a year in the New York Metro area alone. I am only discussing the assassinations that were successful, not including the officers that were shot or hit in the head with a hatchet who miraculously survived. What is going on? Indeed, what is going on! By all accounts attacks on and murders of police officers are increasing dramatically in the past months.
I have heard various spokespersons, that is, people who have a national forum be they politician, news commentator, religious leader or others express the opinion that we (the country) must first fix the underlying conditions of poverty and unemployment which are the root causes of violence and defiance of authority. I am reminded of a conversation that Eleanor Roosevelt had with Winston Churchill after World War II concerning how to maintain peace in the world. “By an American-Anglo alliance”, was Churchill’s answer. The great humanitarian Eleanor Roosevelt responded that the answer was, “to raise the living standard for all peoples of the world.”
Yes indeed, poverty and the human condition have fueled many a war and riot. The slippery slope here, the illogical and terribly incorrect conclusion, however, is to blame poverty and inhumane conditions for the killing of a police officer. The blame for the killing lies totally upon the person who pulls the trigger or swings the hatchet. The message should be and must be that it is wrong in this country to assassinate a police officer; there is no excuse, and there is no justification. Our leaders from the President to so called community leaders and other politicians have diluted this message by stating in the same breath, “This is wrong. BUT we must address the conditions that lead to this behavior.” Implicitly blaming the murder on abject human conditions is wrong. This sort of rhetoric only fuels the fire of those immoral, amoral and criminal minds who are looking for an excuse to vent their hatred. It comes across to deranged minds as, “I am miserable, therefore I am justified in taking out a cop to get my revenge.”
The message must be in our schools, our houses of worship, and our political forums that it is wrong to kill or attempt to harm police officers in this country period. This must be the first order of business. Until that message comes home loud, clear and unconditionally, fixing poverty or joblessness will not stop the war on police that seems to be gaining strength.
You see, to paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, she said that we must address the human condition in order to maintain peace; she did not say the Germans were justified because of their dire condition in 1939, in starting World War II. She would have and the leaders of today must make it crystal clear that one’s perceived misery does not justify starting a war on the cops. By condemning Hitler’s war Eleanor Roosevelt condemned war on the peace-keepers including police officers.
Dr. Carolyn Koos