Take an Alternate Route

Greg Stinnett

New York Police Department Officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora were murdered while investigating a domestic violence incident at an apartment in Harlem. Officer Rivera was just 22 years old and had been a cop for less than a year and a half. Officer Mora was 27 years old and had been a cop for four years.

On January 28, thousands of NYPD officers lined the streets of lower Manhattan to pay respect to Officer Rivera. As I scrolled through the internet looking at the powerful images and watching videos of the service, I came upon a video made by a young woman named Jacqueline Guzman who was walking down the street.

In the video, Ms. Guzman said: “We do not need to shut down most of lower Manhattan because one cop died for probably doing his job incorrectly. They kill people who are under 22 every single day for no good reason and we don’t shut down the city for them.”

Ms. Guzman went on to make a few other comments that are not worth mentioning. My first reaction was probably the same as yours: I was pissed off. As I processed the comments she made, I actually felt sorry for her. Not because she had to walk a few extra blocks, nor because she felt so aggrieved that she had to take to TikTok to blast her emotional outburst to her hundreds of followers, but because she was not mature enough to appreciate the moment.

I couldn’t help but think that at around the same time Ms. Guzman had to knock out an extra block or two, a mom and dad were sitting inside a church staring at their son’s casket while their daughter-in-law was standing in front of them eulogizing her dead husband. All while tens of thousands of men and women who called Officer Rivera their brother stood outside the church in the snow and rain. I would bet the majority of those cops had never met Officer Rivera, but that doesn’t matter.

What those cops lining the streets knew, and what all cops know, is that life is fleeting. It takes a special human being to strap on body armor and a gun belt, then go into our community and live in the worst 20 or 30 minutes of someone else’s life.

On January 21, everything Officer Rivera and Officer Mora had and would ever have in this world ended. It ended at the hands of a man they went to help. That worst 20 or 30 minutes of someone else’s life destroyed the lives of Officer Rivera’s and Officer Mora’s families forever.

That’s the reason Ms. Guzman had to walk a few extra blocks on January 28. I’m sorry she did not have the presence of mind to stop but for a few seconds and silently acknowledge that maybe someone else just a few blocks away was having a much worse day.

I do not know Ms. Guzman. I do not know her life story or motive for her rant. Maybe she was having a bad day and made some stupid comments on social media. Maybe she has a genuine disdain for law enforcement. Maybe she is a great person who said some dumb things. To be certain, we are all guilty of that from time to time.

What I do know is that on February 2, Ms. Guzman will be walking a few extra steps that day as well. That is the day Officer Mora will be laid to rest. And you can bet your entire paycheck the men and women of the NYPD will be out there en masse to send their brother home. They will be wearing their dress uniforms and white gloves, lined up by the thousands, because that is what they do. It’s what they’ve always done. And it’s the right thing to do.

My hope is that on February 2, while Ms. Guzman is knocking out those extra steps, she takes a moment to reflect on Officer Mora’s life. To appreciate a man who walked into a stranger’s apartment to simply help another human being, only to be murdered for his efforts. To appreciate the fact that a few blocks away, some people are having a much worse day than hers.

In any event, one day, when Ms. Guzman is experiencing the worst 20 or 30 minutes of her life, she will beg for help. And those men and women she passed wearing their dress blue uniforms and white gloves will come running — regardless of how she truly feels about them. They will knowingly sacrifice everything they have and ever will have to help her.

And that, Ms. Guzman, is why they get to shut down most of lower Manhattan.

The New York Post interviewed Patrick Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York. He told the Post in part that it was time for those who stand with us to speak up and push back. Lynch could not be more right.

This profession is hemorrhaging good men and women who have had enough of the anti-police and “defund the police” narrative. Many departments cannot fill vacancies. Many officers who could work 25 to 30 years on the job are retiring early.

The men and women of this profession know the overwhelming majority of our citizenry supports the police. It’s time for our supporters to step up and make their voices heard. We are waiting.

Godspeed to Officer Rivera and Officer Mora. God bless their families. And to my brothers and sisters of the NYPD who stood out there to send Officer Rivera home, and to those who will stand to send Officer Mora home, God bless, stay safe and thank you.