in Defense of the Police letter to the editor

| 18 Jul 2016 | 02:20

To the Editor:

Your recent piece on the protests against the police cites a number of anti-police quotes from protestors but does not mention that there is another side to this story. So I am writing this letter to hopefully balance out some of what is being reported about alleged police bias. The data regarding police shootings, in fact, shows the opposite - that police are not targeting or shooting African Americans because of their race.

A fair amount of the media coverage and statements made by some of the elected officials have been unfair to police officers. Too often there is a rush to judgment after a shooting incident and important facts are left out of the discussion. It does seem odd that many trained lawyers assume police guilt before any type of investigation or trial.

This past week a study was released by Harvard Professor Roland G. Fryer Jr. showing that when police use lethal force, there is no bias based on race. This study of 10 cities (NYC was not included) showed that in cases where they were not attacked, the officers actually used their weapons more often against whites than African Americans.

Additional evidence produced in recent NYPD Firearms Discharge reports shows that use of firearms by NYC police officers has been trending to its lowest levels since the reports were first produced in the 1970’s. This very recent Harvard study and the information contained in the NYPD Firearms Reports both fly in the face of the assertions made by anti-police groups.

I am not claiming that the police are always right or that there are not bad officers. We don’t have a perfect system and racism still exists. African Americans especially have been treated badly throughout much of the history of our country. But in the current climate, where racial tension has re-emerged as a major problem, it is vital that we look at the facts, treat police fairly and remember that police have a split second to make life and death decisions that you or I will hopefully never have to make.

As I write this letter news organizations are reporting that three more police officers in Baton Rouge have been senselessly killed and a number seriously wounded. This pattern follows the ruthless assassinations of NYC Police Officers Ramos and Liu in 2014 and the recent killings of Dallas police officers who were simply doing their job protecting anti-police protestors. Police officers perform their jobs and take risks so you and I don’t have to.

The men and women I have met in the NYPD are some of the most dedicated, hardworking and talented people I know. But it is unfair to ask them to take on broader societal ills that we have not been able to solve through our political process. By giving the police our support we send a message to bad actors that their violent malignant efforts won’t work and also shift the discussion to the real causes of these very difficult issues.


Nicholas Viest


The 19th Precinct Community Council