Put own safety 1st, New York cops told
FACED with the first targeted killings of New York City cops in years, the city's police leaders have increased precautions for their vast patrol force.
As the city was thrust into mourning, with flags lowered and police badges ribboned in black, the way gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley stalked officers Liu Wenjian and Rafael Ramos on Saturday set off precautions across the department.
Officers and detectives have been directed to work in pairs or teams of three. Sentries were posted outside police stations.
Taken together, the orders represent a retrenchment by a department that, over the past year, had been adhering to Mayor Bill de Blasio's aim of easing tensions between the police and many communities.
The ambush killing threatens to reverse that goal. Police-community relations have already been strained by nationwide protests over the deaths in recent months of unarmed black people at the hands of white officers.
Following Saturday's shooting, a flurry of notices by police union leaders stopped short of urging members not to respond to calls for help, but prescribed steps for putting their own safety first, regardless of whether that created a deployment problem for commanders.
The messages followed a stunning display of disapproval and disrespect, as several police officers turned their backs on Mr de Blasio as he attended a news briefing on Saturday.
The move came last week, after police unions urged officers to bar the Mayor from their funerals in protest against what they perceived as his lack of support for the force.
Mr de Blasio, who has a biracial son, had campaigned for the mayoral job in part on reforming police tactics that he said had unfairly targeted minorities - especially the controversial "stop and frisk" policy, under which the police could stop virtually anyone deemed suspicious.
The political tension stood in contrast to the outpouring of support for the officers and their families.
In Brooklyn, a memorial continued to grow at the site where the officers died.
Mr Ramos, 40, was a fan of the New York Mets, but the New York Daily News reported that the city's iconic baseball team, the Yankees, would fund the education of his two sons.
He had one son in college, while the other is just 13.
Mr Liu, a seven-year veteran of the force, would have been married for three months on Sunday.
A family friend and physician, Jonathan Chang, 55, said that Mr Liu's widow and parents, who hail from Taishan in China's Guangdong province, were inconsolable.
Mr Liu's parents had not eaten yet, and it was already late in the day. The officer's father does ironing at a garment factory. "Completely distraught," Dr Chang said. "They repeated, over and over, 'My son is gone, my son is gone.' "
Jaden, Mr Ramos' younger boy, wrote an emotional farewell to his father on Facebook that captured the mood of most in uniform and many outside of it.
"This is the worst day of my life," he wrote. "It's horrible that someone gets shot dead just for being a police officer. Everyone says they hate cops, but they are the people that they call for help."