2007-03-23 / Editorial/Opinion

The Least The City Can Do For Its Auxiliary Cops

Police officers in New York City have a tough and sometimes dangerous job. Cops never know what to expect when they respond to a radio call for a domestic dispute, a possible weapon or "shots fired." Often, the familiar blue uniform turns its wearer into a target that enrages an already-incensed person. For their protection and that of the general public, police officers carry a weapon, a baton and wear a bulletproof vest. Unfortunately, Auxiliary Police Officers (APO's) wear the same blue uniform and carry a baton, but have no other protection from the vagaries of city streets. And, while APO's are trained not to respond to calls of shots fired and the like, it is clear from the deaths of two young APO's in Manhattan last week that APO's need at least the basic protection that a bulletproof vest can provide. APO Eugene Marshalik and APO Nicholas Pekearo were patrolling Greenwich Village last week when they responded to a radio call and quickly came upon a man who had just shot a restaurant worker numerous times. They asked the man to stop. Instead, he dropped his bag and began to run. Then, stalking the officers, he shot them both. Marshalik was wearing a vest that he had purchased for himself. Pekearo was not wearing a vest. Both of them were shot in the head and it is clear that wearing a vest would not have made a difference in either case. Wearing a bulletproof vest, however, might well make a difference the next time that an APO has a chance encounter with a gunman. Providing them with the protection of a bulletproof vest is the least we can do for the volunteers who help to make our city a little safer.

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