A Police Funeral


A family, a department, and a proud profession prepares for a funeral tomorrow.  Dirges will play and bagpipes will birl.  Tears will be shed as eulogies are made.  Politicians will posture and bemoan the tragedy with ever more hollow words. 

Officers from around the city and around the nation will line up.  But not all of them. Many NYPD cops will still be at their posts.  Protecting the city and its citizenry from threats and crime.  Answering calls for service and doing their duty.  They will never stop, from their first day on patrol until they turn in their shield and onto the next cop that starts the cycle again.  A never-ending line. 

Cops always remember these moments.  They never forget where they were when they heard the news.  Listen to the radio transmissions and analyze what could have been done to avert tragedy.  Unfortunately, so often, the answer is nothing.  The routines of police work can be deadly.  No tactic can stop it.  No reaction can be fast enough to avoid a bullet.  Stay on your toes, be sharp – hope for the best. 

My feelings will be insignificant as loved ones mourn and uncomprehending children ask questions impossible to answer.  This will be the first inspector’s funeral since my retirement, but I find that the grief has not lessened.  I assisted with investigations into the homicides of six police officers.  Two members of my academy class were killed in the line of duty.  Two cops that I directly supervised were later shot to death.  One cop from my command was killed trying to stop a burglary.  All the perps had multiple prior arrests and convictions.  The most liberal amongst us would not want them out on the streets if they saw the entirety of their rap sheets.  Several friends died as a result of the lies they were told about the air quality after the World Trade Center attack.  Frustration is not the only emotion, but it is always there.

The frustration comes from the system itself.  A system made increasingly more frustrating in recent years.  Almost all police homicides that the NYPD has experienced in recent memory have been preventable.  As stated, sometime tactics and responses can’t avoid tragedy.  But a cursory look at the murderers mostly show a similar pattern, a rap sheet as long as your arm.

This guy should never have been out.  Officer Jonathan Diller’s killer had over 20 prior arrests.  I can’t say that is not typical.  Over 20 collars and out on the street.  Typical and disturbing.  Diller and his partner were doing good police work.  The perp and his associate were most likely about to rob someone.  They were parked in a bus stop casing a person or location.  The illegal parking was a violation that gave the two cops a reason to stop the perps.  Diller and his partner were not out there to write parking tickets.  Officer Diller was an active cop.  He was looking for a collar.  He knew these guys were dirty.

They needed that bus stop violation, stop question and frisk is a bad term these days.  If they didn’t have that parking violation, would they have made the stop?   Would the DA have thrown out any collar they made?  If there was no shooting and the cops made the gun collar, would these perps be out today hunting their next victim?  Frustrating is not the word.   

New York’s Finest will be lined up in Massapequa tomorrow.  They will mourn their loss.  Then return to their frustrating jobs.  Many of the politicians who will be out there with them are the ones responsible for much of their frustration.  It’s time for a change. 


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