WHY do Police Matter?
Have you forgotten the old T-shirts, caps, and coffee mugs from the aftermath of 9/11 that said, “We Will Never Forget?” This is an open letter to our elected officials, our union leaders, business leaders, and our religious and civic leaders from concerned citizens of New York City. We the people of New York City have not forgotten. Have you?
We have not forgotten…
- The NYPD, for the last 25 years have made New York City the safest big city in America, allowing us to thrive and prosper.
- On the day of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 the officers of the NYPD along with all first responders, were willing to give up their lives to save people they didn’t know, rushing into the burning towers of the World Trade Center.
- On the nights following 9/11 the NYPD protected all neighborhoods and all houses of worship including mosques.
- In the years that followed, they protected us from catastrophic terrorist attacks. Some that we didn’t even hear about, were prevented.
- When we were battered by superstorm Sandy, the NYPD were outside responding to one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit our region, while we were inside worried and frightened.
- We all mourned when two of New York’s Finest, Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were shot at point-blank range, while sitting in their patrol car, by an evil assassin.
- Just a month ago we were out every night at 7 pm to salute and praise our heroic first responders including NYPD in the fearless fight against the terrible virus.
- The NYPD is made up of all of US. An attack on them, is an attack on US.
They are our neighbors, our relatives, our friends, parents, sons, and daughters. They shop at the same stores, they frequent the same restaurants, attend the same schools and churches. They run athletic programs and coach sports teams for disadvantaged youth (PAL). They operate playstreets for our children, and after-school programs and summer camps. They visit our High Schools to play basketball and volleyball with our kids.
All too often we have seen our civic, religious, business, and political leaders who have shown weakness, self-interest, or are pandering to the mob. We must all reject the violent mob who loot and destroy, and throw bricks, frozen water bottles, and Molotov cocktails at our police. We must reject the mindless mob who hurl vile and dangerous epithets at our police in their spoken and written words. We must reject the irresponsible mob who ignore the pandemic safeguards and can infect the police with the virus to spread amongst their families, friends and then to all of us.
The police take an oath of office similar to the oath of all of our elected representatives, to uphold the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of New York, the Charter of the City of New York, and to protect the people from all enemies foreign and domestic. In the hallways of police precincts across NYC, throughout NY State, and in station houses across the United States, the debate over how to protect citizen’s rights and enforce the laws is an ongoing daily struggle. Police officers understand the delicate balance between enforcement of the law and upholding the constitutional rights of every citizen.
We are one city united. The vast majority of New Yorkers respect our police, are grateful for our police and even love our police. They are us.
Where do you stand?
Phil Orenstein is the president of the Queens Village Republican Club. Established in 1875, it is America’s oldest Republican Club. Historian, Jerry Matacotta was the advisor for this letter.
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When I first moved to this area, I went shopping in the local supermarket. Before long I was paged overhead on a loud speaker ( as the owner of my car which I had parked in the outside lot). I left the shopping cart & went out to see what the issue was. Maybe some honest person hit my car and wanted to exchange information. To my surprise, a man approached and loomed over me, accusing me of hitting his car.
I knew with certainty that I did not hit his car and saw no visible damage on his vehicle other than aged and worn paint. But he proceeded to criticize the way I was parked and became verbally abusive.
At that point, one of the bystanders who was observing this interaction stepped forward and intervened. Very calmly he told the man that he would never speak to him (he was bigger than the abuser) in the manner in which he was speaking to me. The abuser then asked what business it was of his to which he replied that he was an off-duty policeman and if he had any question about damage to his car, he should call the local police to have a report created and the insurance companies would sort it out. The abuser then replied he was only looking for an apology. I then replied “ I am sorry your car was damaged”.
It was quite some time I related this story to
Members of CREW, a coalition to prevent substance misuse by youth. After that I discovered one of the members, a lieutenant by the name of Will was that same police officer.