This is why a story like the one last weekend, where four officers survived being shot in order to apprehend an armed ex-convict, is so important. The stories about police officers being killed in the line of duty are so ugly that they stay with us for weeks, which is why when a cop like Kenneth Ayala can help save his fellow officers, it is a very big story.
There are professional experts in police policy, but after living in New York City for 40 years, a person develops an opinion on all sorts of public matters even if one is only a civilian. Police work in the 1980s was difficult, but today there is a wider range of concerns. Is a truck going over a bridge loaded with explosives? This was not much of a thought in 1985.
But a man sitting in an apartment, like the one in Brooklyn last weekend, waiting for the arrival of police officers so he could open fire, is not a sign of the times. There have been people like this in all decades.
Remember Larry Davis? In 1986, Davis opened fire on six police officers and injured more than a few of them. Davis’ case was a little different, as he was accused of killing drug dealers, and then claimed to have been defending himself when the police arrived.
What Davis was found guilty of, however, was having serious illegal weaponry. So how do we get guns out of the hands of very dangerous people?
The weapons are what the Mayor is going to focus on in the next few weeks. He may use cases like the one last week in Brooklyn, the murder of Officer Ed Byrne in 1988, or the case of Steven McDonald, who was left paralyzed in 1986, as reasons to amp up the search for illegal guns. If people can fire on the police, they are even more dangerous to unarmed civilians.
New York City police officers do not make as much as officers in other parts of the state and country. Part of that is due to the sheer resources available to pay all of the uniformed services and their pensions. They do, however, deserve more – even if we cannot up their compensation right now.
How News Has Changed
With Mike Wallace, formerly of 60 Minutes, dying last week, an era of reporters has faded away.
When young writers today wish to join the profession of articulating world events, they seem to imitate the superstars on ESPN – funny, cerebral, etc. In high school, I had a picture of Tom Brokaw taped to the front of my notebook. I was not popular with girls.
I’ve lived through three eras of reporting. The writers, the news magazine “journos,” and the present day info-tainers (see Stewart Scott and Kenny Mayne). There is no gold standard in news anymore. Names like Brian Williams and Katie Couric do not instill viewer confidence.
Wallace had his detractors, but he did interview controversial figures like the Ayatollah Khomeini. Wallace gave a window into parts of the world that some us from Ozone Park would never have seen at the time. He was the tail end of the serious writers, even if he spent most of his time in front of the camera.