In the days following the murder of NYC Police Officer Peter Figoski, politicians from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to City Council Member Peter Vallone, Jr. stepped up to the microphone to point fingers of blame.
Officer Figoski was killed in the line of duty after responding to a burglary call in the 75 Precinct on December 12th. He and his partner, Officer Glenn Estrada, encountered two of the five eventual perpetrators that have been charged in this case. While Officer Estrada scuffled with one, Officer Figoski took a bullet to the face as he scuffled with the other, subsequently identified as Lamont Pride.
Seething tirades were unleashed against Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Evelyn Laporte for having freed the shooter without bail during a court appearance for an earlier November 3rd arrest.
Anger was directed at the state of North Carolina for shortcomings in its pursuit of individuals wanted on warrants in that state. There was an outstanding warrant for Pride for allegedly shooting a man there. Judge Laporte reportedly also failed to take this warrant into account even though informed about it.
Tongue lashings extended to Judge Shari Michels who, days later, didn't immediately issue an arrest warrant for Pride when he failed to show for a court appearance. The prosecutor that day, Erica Fenstermacher, also never mentioned the North Carolina warrant to this judge.
Finally, Mayor Bloomberg used the moment to pick up one of his signature issues and, in his now familiar shrill indignation, extended the blame as far as Congress and President Obama for not doing enough about gun control.
Mistakes all (except for that last, which remains debatable). Had any one of those instances gone the other way things might be different today.
But you know what I didn't hear? The same level of outrage directed at Lamont Pride.
The brunt of the fury should have been trained on Pride first and foremost -- with the rest sharing a piece of the fallout instead of the other way around as it's appeared.
Those extraneous events, while all true, didn't physically put the gun in Pride's hands. In the end, he was solely responsible for his actions. It was Pride who put himself at the location and Pride who didn't surrender and Pride who pulled the trigger.
If it's everyone else's fault what expectation from within one's self is there to have to manage one's own behavior? Apparently it's pretty much beyond their control and they are victims too of some sort. The lesson imparted by these tantrums over those mistakes is to align oneself with the rationalization "had someone stopped me..." What then is there to weigh heavily enough on one's conscience who has any predisposition toward criminality to stop himself?
In all this one person stands out who, by shining example in one stark act, exemplified where the truly meaningful focus should have been.
While too many -- who will never understand "the street" from their high ivory towers -- chased after two judges, one state, and the federal government, Officer Estrada, upon hearing the shot and seeing his partner down, immediately dropped an otherwise also guilty man to chase after the one person who did it.
Even with all hell breaking loose, Officer Estrada was able to decide in a split second the right thing to do: go after the individual most responsible. The rest are secondary. The tangential "something must be done" personal point-scoring crowd who Monday morning quarterback from their peaceful and comfortable chairs need take a lesson from him.
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