By David Cruz
At a promotion ceremony in Jersey City today, there was a moment of silence.
“For our brethren from the NYPD, Officer Liu, Officer Ramos, for our Jersey City Police detective brother Melvin Santiago and for all the men and women who wear blue and carry a badge to protect us day and night.”
It was a somber start to what was supposed to be a happy occasion. But, as Mayor Steve Fulop put it, police work goes on.
“We’ve given our supervisors the option of assigning single-man units and doubling them up to two-man units. We’ve reiterated to officers that we want them to be aware of their surroundings even more so. No texting, no talking on the phone. Supervisors are gonna be doing unscheduled visits around the different posts throughout the city. We’re doing a lot of what we’ve been doing the last two years, just with heightened awareness,” he said.
Public Safety Director James Shea said these precautions are standard in the wake of police shootings like the ones that happened this weekend.
“I think police officers are representatives of the society they serve and they’re the most visible one and when people have a problem with that society and want to target it, the obvious standing out on the street corner target is a police officer,” he said.
Shea spent his career with the NYPD, where police community relations have been strained for decades. He said he was concerned that the overheated rhetoric of the past month may have been a contributing factor to what happened.
“There’s a lot of rhetoric going around now; there are a lot of people seemingly willing to vilify police. I think everyone saw the demonstration in New York, where people walked around saying ‘What do we want? Dead cops.’ I would defy anyone to substitute any other word for cops and think it would be acceptable in this society,” Shea said.
In Newark, where the police department is about to get a federal monitor after years of what the Justice Department called civil rights violations, police were doing their jobs as normal, albeit in two-cop units for the foreseeable future. Police Director Eugene Venable says the strained relations between police and Newarkers has made an already difficult job even tougher.
“We’re gonna continue to do our jobs but we’re going to do it in such a way. There’s not going to be any retaliation from us. We’re gonna continue to do our jobs. We’re gonna respect our citizens but we’re gonna be on alert and we’re gonna protect each other,” Venable said.