Nassau County officials paid tribute Monday to the five police officers assassinated in Dallas last week with a police color guard, words of appreciation and the reading of their names.
“We understand by the grace of God, that could be us, so it hits home,” Nassau Police Benevolent Association President James Carver said at a meeting of the Nassau County Legislature on Monday afternoon. “Wherever you are a police officer, we all share the same common goals of protecting the public and doing what’s right.”
Foregoing its monthly “Top Cop” award given in recognition of Nassau police officers, the county legislature and the PBA instead thought it more fitting to use the time to honor the sacrifice of the five slain officers — Dallas police officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith and Patrick Zamarripa, and Dallas Area Rapid Transit Officer Brent Thompson.
The suspected killer, Micah Johnson, an Army veteran, was killed by explosives in a standoff with police.
The killings of the officers came at the end of a nonviolent protest in downtown Dallas calling attention to a pair of separate police-involved shootings, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Falcon Heights, Minnesota, days earlier that ended with the deaths of two black men.
“Hopefully this is a wake-up to the whole country; we need leadership here that supports police,” Carver said. “And if something’s wrong — we’re not above the law, nobody’s above the law — but take time and analyze what happened and try to think why these police officers took this action. And oftentimes you’ll find the officer did what he had to do under the circumstances.”
Carver, County Executive Edward Mangano and acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter praised the slain officers’ bravery, noting they were protecting the rights of protesters when they were gunned down by Johnson.
Mangano said the county planned to light in blue the dome of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola in honor the officers’ sacrifice through Saturday and had already placed the building’s flag at half-staff.
Both Deputy Presiding Officer Richard J. Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) and Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), on behalf of the legislature, presented to the PBA a framed citation in the names of the officers.
After the ceremony, both Carver and Krumpter dismissed calls on Sunday by Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) for both the Nassau and Suffolk police to create criminal justice task forces to address tensions between communities of color and the police, saying Nassau cops already have open lines of communication with communities of color, such as the “problem-oriented policing” program and community affairs offices.
“Committees are great, but they’re useless,” Carver said. “To form another committee is grandstanding and more political than actually getting the job done.”