This past weekend, thousands of New York City police officers turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio at the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos at Christ Tabernacle in Glendale, New York. It is now widely known that Officer Ramos saw his work in the NYPD as his ministry. That means his work was centered on loving God and his neighbors through being a police officer.
I am afraid of the police because not every officer sees their job as service to those around them, let alone as service to God. On the surface it may seem so, since it's on the sides of every police vehicle and etched in the oaths and pledges they take, but perhaps it's too much to ask every officer to put self-interest, self-preservation, and selfish ambition behind serving those they've sworn to protect.
I am afraid of the police because it seems that if I do something to make them uncomfortable, walk in the "wrong" neighborhood, or am perceived as a threat, I could be shot and killed, and no one would be held accountable. I could be handcuffed in the back of a police car and shot, and it will written up as a suicide. I could be choked to death on camera, and no indictment will occur, even if the medical examiner rules it a homicide. I could pick up a BB gun in a Walmart and be shot, and there will be no state-sponsored funeral, no flags at half-staff. There will be only my wife and my community grieving, with another reason to be afraid of the police.
The police who turned their backs didn't just turn their backs on Mayor de Blasio; they turned their backs on the legacy of Officer Ramos. They turned their backs on the people they've sworn to protect. In essence they proclaimed, "We are not walking the streets on duty to protect you. If we deem it necessary, we will text our union reps before we call an ambulance for you. We will call our supervisors before we do CPR. We will make sure that our pensions and benefits are secure before we acknowledge or admit any wrongdoing. We will uphold the law as long as we are above it."
That is why we are afraid of the police. Too many of them, instead of being committed to excellence in service to our city, are committed to serving one another even to the detriment of the city and the citizens they are paid to serve and protect.
This weekend thousands of NYPD officers turned their backs on Mayor de Blasio, Officer Ramos, the citizens of this city and me. Instead of honoring their fallen brother and committing to serve sacrificially as he did, they dishonored him by turning his funeral into platform for personal gain.
That is why I am afraid of the police and pray fervently that every man and woman in uniform turns to God as Officer Ramos did and not to anything or anyone else.