Former NYPD Capt Joe Concannon Calls for National
and Citywide Vigils for our Fallen Police Officers
Speech by NYPD Capt Joseph Concannon (Ret.), May 11, 2015 at Press Conference at 68th Police Precinct, Brooklyn, NY.
Welcome to National Police Week. It is the annual week commemorating police officers who have given their lives in the line of duty throughout our nation. Yesterday, Mother’s Day was the beginning of National Police Week and it lasts until May 16th. But National Police Week needs to be every day of the year.
There is a troubling pattern emerging here. In the last five months, five police officers have been shot, three fatally here in NYC. Two more police officers were fatally shot in cold blood Saturday night in Mississippi, but it was buried in the back pages of many NYC daily newspapers. Police Officer Brian Moore, who was fatally shot by an ex-con last Saturday, was just laid to rest in a solemn ceremony on LI this past Friday, and now we are moving on to other events in the news cycle. Are we the public now taking police sacrifice for granted? Is this the new normal?
A recent Daily News headline in late April, read: “3 dead, 23 wounded in 21 shootings over unusually violent weekend as New Yorkers brace for bloody summer.” Are these headlines a sign of things to come? According to NYPD statistics, homicides and shootings are up this year. I place the blame for today’s current rise in shootings, murders and crime squarely on the shoulders of our NYC elected officials. Politician’s loud defamatory voices, dangerous anti-police and anti-public safety rhetoric succeeded in vilifying and handcuffing our police for the past two years. They will continue to do so with impunity, and crime will continue to rise, unless the voters send them home.
The disregard and disrespect for authority has to stop, otherwise all the gains in public safety we have made over the past 20 years which made NYC the safest large city in America, will be reversed. We don’t want to go back to the bad old days of rampant crime and chaos that NYC was once famous for. The bravery and dedication of New York’s Finest and the pro-active policing methods that have been in place for the past 20 years are responsible for all New Yorkers enjoying historical lows in crime in recent years.
We need to recognize the fact that the police in NYC are the key to our safety and security as well as our mutual economic prosperity. While there are bad apples in every bunch, we need to prevent all police officers from being tarred as over-aggressive and racist. We can be proud of the fact that the NYPD is the most professional and most restrained of all police departments in America.
Police Commissioner Bratton backed this up with facts and figures in an op-ed on Sunday:
- He said that most of the perpetrators shot by the police are armed and dangerous. On the rare occasion that an unarmed innocent is killed, it is by accident or misperception, not by intent to do harm.
- Use of force by NYPD is at record lows. 98% of all arrests are made without the use of force.
- In 1971 police shot and killed 90 people, and that figure for 2014 was down to 11.
- Look at these figures in the context of 400,000 annual arrests in NYC and 11 million arrests per year across America.
- Due to what Bratton calls the “peace dividend,” all arrests, summonses and stops are down by nearly one million encounters from the highs in the previous decade.
What can we do as fellow New Yorkers, fellow Americans who cherish our safety and peace? It is about time, we the people stood up across America and made our voices heard during National Police Week in support of our local police. On Wednesday, May 13th there will be Candlelight Vigils in Washington DC and nationwide in observance of National Police Week.
We are asking all citizens of NYC and America to go out and light a candle in front of their local police precinct and pay their respects to police officers nationwide who died in the line of duty. 117 police officers nationwide, died in the line of duty in 2014. The names of Police Officer Brian Moore as well as the two officers assassinated in Mississippi will be added to the wall of heroes to honor their memories for next year’s observance.
Candlelight Vigils will be hosted at every NYPD Precinct in NYC, in coordination with the nationwide observance for National Police Week, occurring this week. The date for the Candlelight Vigils is May 13th and assembly time is 8:30 PM. At 9 PM or whenever it gets dark, everyone will light their candles or flashlights and host a moment of silence for our fallen heroes of the police force. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in Washington DC has been conducting Candlelight Vigils for years. This is NYC’s very first year to participate in the nationwide observance.
The vigils will give comfort to the families of the deceased, and bring attention to the great sacrifice of these officers who have fallen in the line of duty while dedicating their lives to protecting others. Starting this year, it is hopeful that this police vigil will become an annual staple of New York City community events in solemn memory of our fallen officers.