Shortly after the execution-style murder of two New York Police Department officers sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn in December, two more NYPD officers were shot and wounded in the Bronx while investigating a robbery. Such incidents are not unique to New York. They are occurring in cities and towns across the United States.  It is evident that we must take steps to increase the safety of our police officers as well as repair the broken relationship with the constituents they serve.

First and foremost, I would like to thank the NYPD for their tireless commitment to preserving public safety for our children, family, friends, workers and visitors to our great city. Your efforts allow New York to continue thriving and maintain its position as a hub for new business, creativity and a welcoming home for citizens of the world.  From keeping our youths safe by monitoring schools to being the first responders at a crime scene, the responsibilities and devotion to our city of New York’s Finest cannot be understated. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu during such a difficult time.

The tragedy of fallen officers Ramos and Liu has cast a dark shadow over New York City and has prompted new efforts to increase the safety of our courageous police officers, who deserve the utmost protection from City Hall. This protection includes sufficient equipment and staffing to deal with the dangerous situations they come across. Situations such as the encounter officers Andrew Dossi and Aliro Pellerano had while investigating a robbery in the Bronx Jan. 5, which resulted in both officers being shot and wounded, are a frightening reality for all of our police officers. I am hopeful our leadership in City Hall will continue to take necessary steps to ensure the safety of police officers in the line of duty.

In light of such apprehensive times, I urge our leadership, particularly Mayor Bill de Blasio, to work together with other officials to improve conditions for our police officers. As the mayor stated, “Let us move forward by strengthening the bonds that unite us, and let us work together to attain peace.” 

I challenge officials to not only work together but also make every effort to unite all New Yorkers on this mission of peace, for this is the only means to reduce the tensions that are significantly threatening to destabilize our beloved city. Councilman Robert Cornegy, who represents the district where the attack on Ramos and Liu took place, should be commended for his leadership in forging relationships between the community and the officers who protect it. 

The issue surrounding the volatile atmosphere between the NYPD and the citizens of New York City is a complex one and requires multifaceted solutions. Most importantly, officials must remain calm and levelheaded in working toward a resolution. This is the only way elected officials, police union leaders and NYPD officials will be able to foster patient and constructive dialogue. As history has proved, cooler heads always prevail. Antagonism only serves to exacerbate the situation. 

Our police officers must feel supported, not only by local elected officials but also by all New Yorkers. In a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, as of November 2014, only 54 percent of New Yorkers, compared with 70 percent in January 2013, approve of the way the NYPD officers are doing their job. Moreover, there is a noticeable breach between the police and communities of color, which is apparent not only in New York City but also in urban areas throughout the country. In the same poll, only 34 percent of African-Americans and 43 percent of Hispanics said they approve of the way police officers do their job. This is detrimental to both the officers and the constituents they serve.

By building closer bonds between police officers and the citizens of New York City, we can increase public safety as well as the safety of our officers. It is critical that we support the men and women who protect us and risk their lives daily with the goal of keeping our city safe.