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The brutal slaying of NYPD officers has rallied the public to law enforcement

Dominique Rivera, the widow of NYPD officer Jason Rivera watches as his casket is loaded into a hearse outside St. Patrick's Cathedral
Associated Press/Yuki Iwamura

The recent brutal murders of New York Police Department officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mara tore at the very heart of New York City. The sorrow and rage stirred by the horrific slaying of these two young officers were intense for a city that is too often numbed to tragedy. 

The wakes and funerals for both men in St. Patrick’s Cathedral were overflowing with mourners and filled with anguish and ceremony. 

Outside the cathedral, Fifth Avenue was lined for as far down as the eye could see with thousands upon thousands of police officers from New York and from communities across America. This was the same Fifth Avenue which, during the summer of 2020, was night after night under siege from violent rioters burning buildings, breaking windows and demanding that the police be defunded. And​ this was the same St. Patrick’s Cathedral that was defiled and defaced during those demonstrations by vandals in acts that the district attorney refused to prosecute.

I attended the wake for Officer Rivera and spoke with his shattered young widow, Dominique. The following day she delivered a powerful eulogy about how the justice and political systems have failed, ​how no one is safe, and how she hoped “ the new D.A.,” Alvin Bragg, would hear her dead husband speaking through her.

The following week I was at the funeral for Officer Mara, where Keechant Sewell, the just-appointed NYPD commissioner, spoke with such forceful eloquence of Wilbert Mara’s dedication and how the NYPD, inspired by his memory and the memory of Jason Rivera, would be stronger than ever.

I will also have the lasting memories not just of those city blocks filled with cops but of the flag-adorned coffin being carried from the cathedral to the patriotic strains of “God Bless America,” the NYPD Pipe Band playing its mournful dirges, the police trumpeters playing ​”Taps,” and the NYPD flag being removed from the coffin and solemnly presented to Wilbert Mara’s grief-stricken mother.

Truth be told, I ​also will remember the hypocritical politicians who, 18 months ago, were denouncing the police but now are showing grief for the murdered cops they had wanted to be defunded.

I’m hoping the murders of these two brave young police officers will prove to be a turning point for New Yorkers and many other Americans, that the public will demand police officers be allowed to be cops and that bail “reform” laws be changed to once again give judges the needed discretion ​to keep dangerous or repeat offenders locked up, rather than releasing them onto the streets to threaten the law-abiding. ​

For President Biden to say in a recent speech in New York that today’s crime wave is all about illegal guns is off the mark and a diversion. The goal must be to arrest those criminals who use guns. There were 2 million illegal guns in New York ​City when Rudy Giuliani became mayor in 1994 but, under the aggressive policing policies of police commissioners Bill Bratton and then Ray Kelly, murders were reduced by more than 80 percent, saving thousands of lives. 

I have hope for Mayor Eric Adams and great confidence in ​Police Commissioner Sewell, who I knew when she was in Nassau County. Violent crime can be stopped once again  but only if they and other elected officials (as well as the public) stand with the men and women in blue.

PeteKing was the U.S. representative of New York’s 2nd and 3rd congressional districts for 28 years, including serving as chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. Follow him on Twitter @RepPeteKing.

Tags Joe Biden Keechant Sewell Law enforcement in the United States New York City Police Department Rudy Giuliani

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