In January 2022, Dominique Luzuriaga, the young widow of New York City police officer Jason Rivera, begged New York County district attorney Alvin Bragg to change the direction of New York’s criminal-justice system. “The system continues to fail us. We are not safe anymore, not even members of the service,” she said to the thousands of police officers attending Rivera’s funeral. “I know you were tired of these laws, especially the ones from the new DA. I hope he is watching you speak through me right now.”  

Bragg attended the funeral and surely overheard the applause that followed the widow’s excoriation of his relaxed-enforcement policies, though he later claimed that the memo announcing his prosecutorial agenda had misrepresented his plans.

Days after Rivera’s funeral, speaking in Spanish, Karina Mora eulogized her younger brother, Wilbert Mora, who, along with Rivera, was shot by a career criminal while responding to a domestic-violence call in Harlem on January 21, 2022. Karina described her brother and Rivera as “young men who wanted to make a difference and a change in their city with their service and their sacrifice.” “Now,” she said, “I only ask myself how many more Wilberts? How many more Jasons? How many officers must lose their lives so that the system changes?”

Bragg, who also attended Mora’s funeral, seemed to respond to the grieving women. Issuing a statement on Twitter during Mora’s service, he promised vigorous prosecution of “anyone who would commit violence against the NYPD’s brave guardians.”

Yet, less than a week ago, we saw the scene repeat itself. This time, mourners gathered for the funeral of police officer Jonathan Diller, 31, a three-year department veteran who was shot below his protective vest while investigating a car parked illegally in a bus stop in Far Rockaway, Queens. The car’s occupants, two career criminals, were poster boys of New York’s liberalized bail laws. One of the alleged offenders, Guy Rivera, 34, has at least 21 prior arrests and served a five-year prison stint. The other alleged offender, Lindy Jones, 41, also has an extensive criminal history, including a gun-charge arrest last year and prison stays for first-degree robbery and attempted murder.

In her eulogy, Diller’s widow, Stephanie, noted that it had “been two years and two months since Detective Rivera and Detective Mora made the ultimate sacrifice—just like my husband.” She echoed Karina Mora’s words, asking: “How many more police officers and how many more families have to make the ultimate sacrifice before we start protecting them?”

The gulf between New York’s progressive politicians and the police department has only grown in the years since Rivera’s and Mora’s deaths. Sergeants Benevolent Association president Vincent Vallelong warned anti-cop politicians to stay away from Diller’s funeral, naming City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, accusing them of detesting cops. “They should stay home and not pretend they are grieving,” Vallelong added. “They have caused enough heartbreak and destruction.”

Detectives’ Endowment Association president Paul DiGiacomo attributed Diller’s death to “the failures by many of our legislators and city council members” who have championed bail reform, which has “emboldened criminals ready to do New Yorkers harm.” Even a member of Mayor Eric Adams’s administration was openly critical of local politicians. Assistant Deputy Mayor Louis Molina, recently the city’s corrections commissioner, wondered what it would “take for extremist advocates and elected officials to understand that what they have done to significantly weaken our public safety system is unnecessarily placing the public at risk.”

Despite the rancor, Governor Kathy Hochul attended Diller’s wake and claimed to have spoken with the late officer’s widow. The New York Post, however, reported that a member of Diller’s family confronted Hochul and said, “You’re not wanted here. You have blood on your hands.” Photos showed Hochul leaving abruptly with her security detail, though she later maintained that she had not been asked to leave.

While Hochul did not attend the funeral, Comptroller Brad Lander, who advocated defunding the police in 2020, and New York State Attorney General Letitia James, did. Some attendees criticized Lander's and James’s appearance, according to the Post, with an NYPD lieutenant’s wife reportedly calling the politicians’ presence “disgusting and disrespectful.”

Whether any rapprochement takes place between the politicians and the police remains to be seen. But without changes to the state’s bail-reform laws, most recently amended in 2023, the breach will likely persist. And for the police officers’ widows and their families, any change will have come too late.

Photo by J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday RM via Getty Images


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