NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said the Dallas sniper attack on police officers should bring the community together, rather than divide it.
“We need to try to find common ground as we go forward,” said Bratton said in a news conference on July 8. “Out of the tragedies let’s find some good that might come out of it. That’s the opportunity we shouldn’t lose, to take advantage of the opportunity to bring us together rather than tear us apart.”
Bratton said racial injustice should not be tolerated, neither should threats against law enforcement.
In New York City, the NYPD was extra vigilant after the Dallas attack on Thursday night, and all officers in the city were doubled up on patrols. Bratton said police presence will be increased at protests.
Bratton recalled an ambush incident in December 2014, when Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot and killed in their patrol car. The gunman had previously expressed outrage on social media over the death of Eric Garner, a black man who died after being put in a chokehold by an NYPD officer.
Bratton said the community expressed solidarity when the detectives were killed, and that the shootings this week shouldn’t negatively affect the relationship between communities and police.
“I don’t see this creating an alienation the relationships are still there,” said Bratton, “This often times brings people closer rather than pulling them apart.”
Bratton added that in 2015 out of the 36,000 NYPD officers, firearms were used a total of 65 times in a city of 8.4 million—36 of those were in combat situations.
“We have effectively worked with communities over the years,” said Bratton, “To build a degree of trust and calm and have the city a much safer place in the process.”
He said the NYPD has been working hard to have more “personal trust” with communities, especially through Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCOs).
Five officers were killed when sniper fire broke out in Downtown Dallas at around 8:45 p.m. Thursday as hundreds of protesters had gathered to demonstrate against two fatal police shootings this week in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and suburban St. Paul, Minnesota.
Seven other officers and one civilian were also injured.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown told reporters multiple snipers fired “ambush style” upon the officers. One suspect was killed by a robot with a bomb that police sent into a parking garage. Brown said officers negotiated with the suspect and he “seemed lucid during this negotiation,” but he expressed a wish to kill white people, especially white officers. Three other alleged suspects are in custody.
Police Officer Shot in Georgia
In Valdosta, Georgia, a man identified as Stephen Paul Beck, 22, called 911 and ambushed Officer Randall Hancock, who responded to the break-in call.
When Hancock got out of the car Beck allegedly shot him at least twice in his protective vest and once beneath the vest in the abdomen area, says the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The officer returned fire, stopping Beck.
Hancock was taken to a hospital and is currently in stable condition, while Beck is in serious condition. Authorities are investigating the incident and do not know the motive of the shooting as of yet.
Authorities say officers have also been targeted in Tennessee and Missouri in aftermath of police killings of black men.
Police departments across the country expressed their solidarity with Dallas:
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) July 8, 2016
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) July 8, 2016
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) July 8, 2016
The Black Lives Matter Network released a statement after the Dallas attack saying the assault is “a tragedy–both for those who have been impacted by yesterday’s attack and for our democracy.”
#BlackLivesMatter advocates dignity, justice and freedom. Not murder.
— Black Lives Matter (@Blklivesmatter) July 8, 2016
“Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it,” added the statement. “Yesterday’s attack was the result of the actions of a lone gunman. To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible.