The heart-stopping phrase “Officer Down” is dedicated to law enforcement’s heroes. This phrase is known across the United States by the law enforcement community. These two words once spoken are all that is needed. These words do not identify the officer’s name, rank, gender, or nationality or skin tone. Officers respond to try, in earnest, to enable the fallen to stand again.
In the past, officers have stood again, but quite often once down an officer is stolen from family, friends, and loved ones. In honor of a fallen officer, law enforcement ensures each officer stands once more in the heart, mind, and the soul of one and all.
The newest members of Officers Standing are NYPD officers Rafael Ramos, 40 and Wenjian, Liu, 32 who were assassinated on Saturday as they were seated in a marked police car parked on Tompkins Avenue, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, NY. These officers were assigned to safeguard a high-crime area when they unknowingly were the target on this day.
An officer’s presence in a high-crime area tends to offset criminal conduct. This is the norm when the authority of the police and respect each officer is due is recognized. That was not the case on this day. A black male assassinated the officers. He fled the scene, and then took his own life unable to face armed police officers prepared to protect themselves and the community they serve.
It is believed the assassin is associated with the Black Guerilla Family, a prison gang dedicated to killing NYPD police officers. The fact Officers Ramos and Liu were in uniform and seated in a marked police car is all that was required to self-justify targeting these officers. This male indicated life isn’t worth living. An individual with such a mindset is incapable of having any concern about the life of another. However, this individual believed dying is worth being remembered. It is for that reason he will not be named.
On Saturday morning, the black male shot his ex-girlfriend in the stomach. He then fled Baltimore County en route to Brooklyn, NY where he found his way to law enforcement’s newest Officers Standing! Prior to executing the officers the assassin made his intentions known on Facebook. He posted “I always wanted to be known for doing something right…but my past is stalking me and my present is haunting me.”
On Instagram, he posted, “I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours … let’s take 2 of theirs.” He included three hashtags: ShootThePolice, RIPErivGarner and RIPMikeBrown. “This may be my final post … I’m putting pigs in a blanket.”
At 2:45 PM on Saturday, December 20, 2014 Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian, Liu were shot in the head by this mad man believing he had the right to retaliate for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. This assassination is a hate crime and is the reason, although two officers have fallen the police community has embraced them to pay homage and return these officers standing for all to remember.
Each year, in Washington D.C. a week in May is set aside to honor our fallen officers. Police Week is the means a foundation is built for law enforcement and the families of the fallen to stand upon. It enables those affected to grow, develop, and continue with their lives. It is a solemn occasion. Police Week recognizes those among law enforcement who were not able to return home to their loved ones.
On May 15, 2015, PO. Rafael Ramos and PO. Wenjian, Liu will stand forever as they join the officers who have fallen before them at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. These officers will be enshrined and will stand forever. It is imperative this is done. At the end of the day, all officers have the right to return home to their families…STANDING! Those who do not have the right to stand forever!
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Jim Gaffney, MPA is Law Enforcement Today’s risk management /police administration contributor. He has served with a metro-New York police department for over 30 years in varying capacities, culminating with Executive Officer and PIO. He is a member of (ILEETA), (IACP), and the nationally recognized FBI- LEEDA. Jim is a Certified Force Science Analyst. He mentors law enforcement’s next generation as an adjunct criminal justice professor in the New York City area. Jim brings the street into the classroom to prepare students today for their roles as police officers tomorrow. He is CEO of Bright Line Consulting and can be reached via www.brightlinepoliceconsulting.com