PEARL RIVER SHOWING SUPPORT FOR POLICE

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By: Keith S. Shikowitz

Security for me but not for thee. This is the way democratic led cities are looking at policing. They are not only looking into, but actively defunding the police. While doing this, they are making sure they have security, police security, at taxpayer expense to protect them as the protection for the common taxpaying citizen is being taken away, leaving the law abiding citizens at the mercy of the criminal element that many of these same said leaders are letting out of the prisons and jails because of COVID.

The unwarranted hatred and desire to defund police across the country has reached a fever pitch with Presidential Candidate Joe Biden stating that the police have become the enemy as well as many democratic mayors, governors and legislatures tying the hands of the police. They claim that the police are using unnecessary lethal force against African Americans during confrontations, yet these legislatures are taking away all of the NON – LETHAL methods of dealing with situations like tear gas and pepper spray. What does that leave police with? It leaves them with ONLY lethal means of dealing with the public. It’s like they are setting up the police to look like the accusations are saying they are.

The police are seeing this and not accepting it. Many of the police agencies who were tasked to act as security for the Democratic National Convention (DNC) have opted out because Milwaukee has disallowed the use of non – lethal crowd control devices like tear gas and pepper spray. “The ironic thing about this,” one person commented, “Is that these are the same people who are calling for the defunding of the police and they want them there to protect them during their convention. Talk about hypocrisy at its best.”

Amid all of this, as happened in Suffern on July 12, a Support the Police Rally was held in Pearl River on August 2. Over 2000 people attended this event. A large guest list of governmental, (town legislators and County Legislators) as well as other political and non – political people were in attendance. County Executive Ed Day, a 20 year veteran of the NYPD, Of the 5 Town Supervisors, the Town Supervisors, Teresa M. Kenny, Orangetown, George Hoemann, Clarkstown and Jim Monaghan, Stony Point came to show their support for this movement.

“The police are not being represented fairly by the mainstream media. As a result it’s facilitating this type of behavior, with the demonstrations, protests and violence. They are undermining the authority of the police for no reason. Don’t let the media kid you about peaceful protest. Unless you have access to a tv or internet, you should know what’s going on int Portland, Chicago and Seattle is anything but peaceful protest. This is a peaceful protest. 2000 of us here wearing masks, not one incident. Not one broken window. Not one fire. Not one rock thrown. That’s the difference between people who are criminals and those who are law abiding citizens.” Mike Stefanovich, organizer of the event, said.

Stefanovich organized this because he was just tired of the mainstream media not showing everybody what’s really going on. It took him two weeks to put this together. He was surprised at the turnout which was more than I guessed. “Over 2000 people attended. NYPD intelligence was here and counted in excess of 2000 altogether. Suffern had 1000.”

He’s possibly planning another event before the end of August somewhere else in Rockland. He stated two of the major rights in the First Amendment. The right to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of PEACEFUL Assembly. But he added that once you start throwing rocks at cops and bottles and lighting fires, now it’s an unruly assembly. “Now you’re committing a crime. Now everybody gets cleared off the street. You don’t hide behind the peaceful protestors and let them throw rocks at the police officers. That’s called unlawful assembly. That’s when they should be removed from the street.”

Along with the civilians in attendance, many former and current police officers were there to show their support for their Blue Family. John Schenck a retired Sgt from the 44th Precinct in the Bronx was one of them. “This defund the police is horrible. I was a police officer for 23 years and I see what the men and women of law enforcement do on a daily basis. It just breaks my heart to see the way they are being treated right now.”

In response to what Seattle and other municipalities and states are doing to their police forces, he added, “It’s really unfortunate that rhetoric is going around right now. People are going to be very sad and unhappy when the police are no longer there to help them. The calls for reinstatement of the police is going to be lightening quick should one of these workers get hurt or killed because they lack the training to deal with these situations. The police will be back. Part of me wants them to se what it will be like without the police and they realize what a vital part of society police play.”

The mainstream media would have the nation believe that all of the activities in Portland, Seattle and NYC are peaceful. If you look at what happened in the CHOP/CHAZ zone, there were two teens shot. They would not let the police in to help them and they died as a result. They were begging to be let in to help the guy.

Schenk’s opinion on this is that’s what happens when you have poor leadership in local government. Local, state anywhere in my opinion there seems to be a democrat. After thinking about it he agreed that this was a fact. “It’s rather unfortunate to say. Let them have their way and realize just how vital the police are and law enforcement. A law and order society is what the USA craves. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. The event here today is a great show of support. I think that it’s important to let the police know that we support them, to let the greater society know that we are the silent majority.”

The Rockland County fife and drums opened the ceremonies and Chris O’Connell the MC for the event welcomed the assemblage and for their show of support for the blue. “I would like everyone to follow the CDC guidelines, social distancing will not be 6 feet apart but please wear a mask, respect one another. To start, the person who put this all together is a retired Sgt. From Manhattan North. His name is Michael Stefanovich he carried this mostly on his shoulders. I am a retired first grade detective from NYC PD. After working in law enforcement in other areas, after 34 years, laid down his shield.”

He gave a little insight into what policing is all about saying that there are close to 800,000 sworn law enforcement officers serving in the USA. He went into a history of police officers who were killed in the line of duty starting with the first recorded police officer death in 1786 going through to today. “One is too much and since then 24,396 have been killed in the line of duty. Their names have been engraved on the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial in Washington D.C. Last year, there were 147 officers killed in the line of duty. This year alone, 146 have been killed in the line of duty and we are ONLY EIGHT MONTHS INTO THIS YEAR!! The deadliest day in law enforcement history as we all know was 9-11, 2001. On that day, 74 officers were killed responding to terrorist attacks on the United States of America. 9-11 has lasting effects on our officers as they continue to die, today, as a result of the aftermath of 9-11. These officers were doing their job, protecting and serving their community.”

As we have seen on television with the NYC police being doused with water and assaulted in various other ways O’Connell continued with statistics on this as well. The year of 2018 was the highest number of assaults against law enforcement officers. In that year there were 16,000, I lean higher. Officers assaulted with serious physical injuries 18,000. I think that number’s higher.

According to O’Connell, since 1849, NYC has lost 977 which is the highest in the country. 30 law enforcement officers living in Rockland County have been killed in the line of duty. 10 law enforcement officers serving in Rockland County have been killed in the line of duty, with Orangetown taking the biggest hit with 4. “800,000 sworn officers in the USA. Do you know what all of these officers have in common? THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS!!!! HEAR THT HUMAN BEINGS!!!! They are husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, grandparents etcetera. These officers are part of the fabric of the communities they live in and work in. We are neighbors. We are friends. We are coaches. We’re members of the PTA. Members of the school board and continuing to give back to their communities. The only difference between the general public and law enforcement officers is that we as law enforcement officers, we put on a uniform and a badge and go to work to protect and serve our communities. At the end of our shift or tour, we are just like every other HUMAN BEING hoping to get home to our families.”

Our first speaker for the day, no pun intended, Rockland County Executive, Ed Day. “Thank you very much. Thank you to my blue family. I am proud to lead this county and I am proud to be a part of that blue family. I offer you one thing that you need more than anything else nowadays. The unequivocal support in word action and deed from the top elected official in Rockland County forever.”

Day, a 20 – year veteran of the NYPD, as beat cop in Washington Heights to Harlem and the Bronx in some tough neighborhoods. rose through the ranks and saw an awful lot spoke from experience not politics. “I saw law enforcement men and women put their lives on the line each and every day. I saw too many funerals. Way too many funerals as was mentioned earlier. Anyone who’s been to a police funeral knows Amazing Grace. It grows chills right through you.”

He gave special acknowledgement to the families of the police officers who say good – bye, each and every day to their spouses, kids and families, not knowing if they will ever come home. “You are not thanked enough for your bravery, yes, bravery and sacrifice. I also want to take the time it’s a fitting time to remember two Orangetown Police heroes. Police officer Michael Reedy and police officer Tom Kennedy who were killed 47 years ago today in the line of duty.”

People who are not familiar with what policing is all about often ask why do cops sign on? Day answered this. “Is it for the money? I don’t think so. The prestige? Have you watched TV lately? Those wonderful hours? Those hours will take away your holidays, birthdays, the kids time playing ball, It’s not that either. Is a very simple thing. It’s very straightforward. They want to help people. They believe in making communities a better place. They want to make a difference. That is the driving force to become a cop. I wish more people would understand that. It’s a simple and straightforward is that. What they do, they protect and serve. Yes, protect and serve. How much? They will lay down their lives for people they don’t even know. It has had to happen way too often. That is called courage. That is called sacrifice.”

Everyone in the nation sees that today we area at a crossroads. People are saying that we have a major decision to make this year. Either we will have freedom (good) or tyranny (evil). Day felt it was great to see so many people at the rally. He pointed out that the police are the thin blue line that separates good from evil and that it is strained to the breaking point right now as we see it. “I want to emphasize, this not the people who feel they have a grievance and peacefully protest, those folks are our neighbors. It’s those who are hell bent on anarchy and could care less about our society. We can and we will win these street battles that we see unfolding daily. All we need is resolve. We have that resolve. It’s in the ranks. It’s in the blue ranks. We all have that as cops. What we need is the resolve from the political leaders and elected officials.”

He promised that as an elected official, he is sickening when he sees some officials smile, pat you on the back and then go to places like Albany and Washington DC and compromise your well – being, your livelihood, your family, your future and yes YOUR LIVES!!! “That’s what they do. The time has come to call them all out. The time has come for all of them to come out from behind the shroud of political opportunism. Let’s demand from all of our elected officials unequivocal and unyielding support, in words, actions and deeds. I don’t see all elected officials here. I did not see them in Suffern. We need to make a statement to them that, that is not acceptable. Not to be here when their constituents are here demonstrating their concern. Let us never forget how this family, this blue family came together to support each other today, just as they did recently in Suffern. This is a big extended family. Let’s always act like it. Live like it and most importantly VOTE LIKE IT! That ladies and gentlemen is exactly how we will turn the tide. We will take back that pride that should be given to every police officer who puts a uniform on. God bless the USA and God bless all of you. Let’s be safe out there.”

Orangetown Town Supervisor Teresa M. Kenny and the daughter of a 26 – year veteran of the NYPD who retired in 1975, took the podium next. “It’s always hard following County Executive Ed Day. He really knows how to get the crowd going. I have to bring it down a bit. I really have to urge everyone to put on masks. We do not want a spike and we do not want the governor coming back and saying it was because of this rally.”

Kenny spoke somberly. “It’s fitting to have the rally today because as you heard, today marks the anniversary of the deaths of two Orangetown Police officers. Michael Reedy and Thomas Kennedy. They were killed in the line of duty. They were at an accident scene and they were run down by a drunk driver. Please keep their families in your thoughts and prayers today.” It’s because of my dad and officers like Kennedy and Reedy that we’re here today. We are having violence against police officers, just because they are police officers. We know there are bad cops. These men and women should not be paying the price of a bad cop. We know there’s bad lawyers. We know there’s bad doctors. We know there’s bad politicians. They don’t deserve the all – out attack on them. It’s really an injustice to all of the officers out there putting themselves in harm’s way so I can sleep at night.”

“It’s not fair. It’s not right and it’s something we all need to stand up and say WE EXPECT BETTER! I stand here proudly today to say, I support law enforcement. I always have and I always will. I have to especially thank the Orangetown Police department. They are doing a fantastic job. I want them to know I will always support them and I thank them and just keep up the good work.” She concluded.

Mike Lawler candidate for the 97th Assembly district thanked the citizens of Rockland County for showing up today to back the blue. He continued by thanking the men and women in law enforcement who put their lives on the line everyday. “You answer the call with courage, honor and respect for the communities you serve. I’m proud to call many of you my friends and even prouder to call some of you my family.”

“Let today’s event serve as a reminder to each and everyone of you and your families that we are grateful for your service and WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE YOUR BACKS! President Reagan said that we must reject the idea that every time a law is broken, society is guilty rather than the law breaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions. Folks, we all agree that what happened to George Floyd was a horrible injustice that never should have happened and is being dealt with by the justice system, where due process can be afforded and the truth can be adjudicated. However, as a society, we can not allow this incident to be reflective or representative of law enforcement and their relationship with communities of color throughout our country.”

Lawler exclaimed that in the same way, we can not allow the conduct of one individual to define an entire group of people. “If we are truly to stop incidents of racism, discrimination, bigotry or hatred, them we must get to a point where we judge people on the content of their character and their individual conduct. NOT THE COLOR OF THEIR SKIN OR THE UNIFORM THEY WEAR!!!”

He blamed the recent rise in crime in NYC is a direct result of the disastrous policies that are being implemented by state and local officials, period. Citing examples of this such as the non – enforcement of petty crimes. Shutting down Riker’s Island. Cashless bail for non – violent criminals. Parole for unrepentant cop killers and child sex offenders. “Is it any wonder why NY is becoming less safe? For too long the politicians in Albany and NYC have covered up their failed policies on education, housing, poverty, homelessness, drug addiction and mental health by passing on those responsibilities to law enforcement and then throwing police officer under the bus at the first sign of controversy. IT ENDS TODAY!!!”

The people Lawler feels need to be defunded and voted out of office are the politicians like Ellen Jaffee, WHO HAVE CREATED THIS MESS IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!

He has a message to all the woke, weak kneed politicians, who have caved to the demands of activists, and put politics above the safety of all New Yorkers, “I say to you today, you are responsible for this breakdown in our country not law enforcement. Defund the police?! Get real. YOU HAVE MADE THE LAWS. YOU HAVE SET THE POLICIES. YOU HAVE VOTED TO DEFUND THE POLICE. In doing so, you have made crime acceptable. You have made our city and state less safe not more. You have hurt hundreds of black lives who have been the victims of this recent rise in crime by allowing these shootings and riots to continue.”

He continued by asking how many more 1 year – old black babies need to be shot and killed at a family picnic before you wake up and let the police do their damn jobs?!!! “Enough is enough. Get a backbone and stand up for the rule of law and yes Bill DeBlasio, I’m talking to you.”

“As American, we have amoral obligation to stand up for the rule of law and fight to insure justice and equality for all Americans. The simple truth is that is what you as police officers do every day. My name is Mike Lawler and I am running to be your voice in the state assembly and to restore common sense and balance to state government. I’m honored to be endorsed by former NYC police commissioner Ray Kelly and on November 3, I would be honored to have your vote so that together we can keep our communities safe and ensure justice and equality for all New Yorkers.”

Bill Weber IS running for the 38th NYS Senate seat which covers Rockland and parts of Westchester. A pearl River native and part of a long line of NYPD police officers from his grandfather to his father and two brothers dating from the 1930’s to the present. “As Teresa Kenny said and other did before me. We know what it is like to have family members in the police department waiting for them to come home. Scared that they are not going to come home and relieved when we hear them come home. They are our family members. They are our neighbors. They are a part of our community. They are everywhere. We need to support our police and like Ed Day said we need elected officials in Albany like Mike Lawler, like myself and Maureen in Washington DC and other speakers who will not say one thing at events like this and vote other ways up in Albany.”

The one thing that society lacks today in many areas is consistency. Weber says he will bring the needed consistency to his constituents. “You hear code words now. Defunding the police. Defund the police. Right. Think about where we are as a society when we say defund the police. We say, let’s take guns away from our law – abiding citizens. We say, no bail for law breakers. What do they want us to do, fend for ourselves on the streets? Is that what is it going to come down to? That is what you have right now in places like Portland Oregon and Seattle and Chicago where you have elected officials not supporting their police departments, holding them back and allowing riots in the streets. We, as a society cannot allow that.”

We need the silent majority, which I know is out there and is represented out here today and in Suffern two weeks ago. It starts now. It starts with the silent majority coming out and saying, “We’ve had enough. We’ve had enough because these are our friends and neighbors and our brothers and sisters. Just a few short years ago 9-11 happened. We know that in Rockland County there were a lot of law enforcement officials who dies protecting our nation and down there during the clean – up. Down there when the buildings were coming down. They ran up there just like the firemen did. We’ve come a long way since then having the utmost respect for law enforcement and now we see what we see on tv right now, which is a tragedy. We need to continue to support our law enforcement. As an elected official in Albany, I will be that person. I will represent this community and all communities fairly and equally. I am Bill Weber and I am a proud supporter of the police and will always be and will never let them down.”

O’Connell finished the speeches by reading a list of Rockland police officers who have died in line of duty.

Speaking after the event Ed Day stated, “Here’s the reality. We have one incident that has taken on a life of its own. The reality is that police officers by and large stack up against any vocation in being honest, loyal, trustworthy and most of all brave and courageous. To see what has happened to this country, not because of people who have honest complaints or concerns about racism and the such, that’s something we can speak about and deal with. That’s really a simple matter. There are people who are out to destroy this country right now. They are anarchists. You see what is going on right now in this country. Politicians are enabling it by taking no action. It is unheard of in my 60 some odd years of life and law enforcement in particular, it is unheard of to allow the streets to be taken over by anarchists. It has to stop.”

Day praised Rocklanders for their ability to protest and air grievances and keep it peaceful and non – violent. “I’ve said it many times here. In Rockland County, in my 35 years here in Rockland County, I’ve seen protests before, most notably on Route 59 and Middletown road, which is the same place where we had a protest early on about racism. Nyack 1500+ people same thing. Other than some minor disruptions, no violence. Today, Suffern again, what I do, I give credit to the people of Rockland. That is why we don’t have these problems here. At the end of the day, we have grievances, but we have ways of dealing with them. I think that’s the difference. You have the right to go out and protest, to air your grievances and redress them. It’s part of the American society. It’s a wonderful thing to see. I think what is says mostly about the people of Rockland is that we are law – abiding and we are looking to do the right thing and we are looking to work together as a community.”

“Defunding the police is being under the most absurd notion that somehow you can have social workers respond to a violent dispute. I will tell you one thing, what they are looking to have done I already started that in 2014 with the Behavioral Health Response Team. They go out to augment police presence because many times people who have issues and mental health issues in particular, they see a uniform, they panic and it may get violent. We have professionals who go out to deescalate the situation. They work hand in glove with law enforcement. It’s not a total police abdication, but it does free up the police to do the job they have to do. There are ways, not defunding but redirecting resources.” Day explained.

He agreed with the sentiment that should one of those civilian social workers get hurt or killed, God forbid, that it would be momentarily that they would be screaming for the cops to come back and that there is no way an untrained civilian, can handle these situations. “We have the Behavioral Health Commission here. They have a role. Law enforcement has a role. You have to be in a situation where you are fighting for your life or in a gun fight, which is something I had to go through before you understand that this is all political nonsense. You cannot defund the police. The police are the thin blue line that protect us from evil. Evil is not going to take kindly being told by a social worker what to do.”