Police say last week’s brutal slaying of a 15-year-old Bronx boy was carried out by gang members. So, will critics now drop their opposition to the NYPD’s gang database and other tools that can help prevent horrors like this? Don’t bet on it.
Mourners formed block-long lines to pay their respects to Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz. Social media was flooded with expressions of sympathy. A GoFundMe page raised hundreds of thousands for his family. Clearly, this case struck a nerve.
Yet some folks wondered why cops didn’t do more to help Junior. The rapper Cardi B seemed to blame police more than the killers: “BX cops be harassing the s- -t outta people then they see a boy bleeding to death and ask what happen?”
Obviously, cops can’t be everywhere. Yet the radicals in the city have fought with some success for even less of a police presence.
Though the NYPD virtually scrapped its stop-and-frisk program, critics are now targeting “low-level” questioning by cops: The decrease in stops “is an NYPD bait-and-switch,” huffs Jenn Rolnick Borchetta of The Bronx Defenders.
They’ve also set their sights on the NYPD’s Criminal Group Database, which contains information on gang members and, police say, provided leads in this case.
“To hear [that] this database exists,” moaned City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (D-B’klyn), holding back tears at a recent hearing, “seems very problematic.” Those in the system “are people,” she said.
She’s talking about people like Junior’s butchers — members, cops believe, of a notorious gang called the Trinitarios, who do indeed populate the NYPD database.
Fact is, critics never stop looking for ways to handcuff cops. Yet to prevent tragedies like Junior’s, police need to use tools like the gang database.
How ironic that Junior himself was anything but a cop-hater: His life’s dream was to become a cop. Now he won’t get that chance. And if the cop-haters don’t stand down, other kids may meet a similar fate.
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