Are the days of Irish in the NYPD numbered? It is very possible. Recruitment for new police officers especially omits Irish outreach in what seems like a lame attempt by Mayor de Blasio to somehow change forever a famed institution.
Our sister paper the Irish Voice would regularly get the NYPD exam information in the form of an advertisement for those who wanted to take the police test. Our competitor the Irish Echo carried them too. The Irish and the NYPD are almost synonymous, as was the FDNY.
We don't get the ads anymore, alas. Times have changed and there is seemingly a coldness towards the Irish in the NYPD. Astonishing but true.
It is being done in the name of diversity, which is absolutely fine by me, but I don't think you stop recruiting the Irish, the very backbone of the force which has so successfully slashed murder and crime figures these past few years.
When I think of the NYPD I think of the brave men and women who for generations gave their lives to save others. I especially see them on 9/11 when they rushed into the burning buildings to save lives and lost many of their own. Most of the fallen were Irish.
When I think of NYPD I think of heroic figures like Steve McDonald, an inspiration to everyone after he was cruelly gunned down and paralyzed as a young newly-wed officer.
I had the rare honor and privilege to know Steven. He left an indelible mark on everyone he met, his quiet courage the quick smile, the concern for others despite his own private pain.
I think of Police Officer Moira Smith, daughter of Irish immigrants, who was the only NYPD female officer killed on 9/11. She saved many lives by staying cool and calm as survivor Martin Glynn remembers.
He stated: "The mass of people exiting the building felt the calm assurance that they were being directed by someone in authority who was in control of the situation. Her actions even seemed ordinary, even commonplace. She insulated the evacuees from the awareness of the dangerous situation they were in, with the result that everything preceded smoothly.”
She left behind a husband and beautiful little 2-year-old girl who must be all grown up now. She was Irish to the core.
The NYPD may well be about to lose access to such great officers and history and tradition.
Last year a $54 million campaign to widen the base of the department was announced.
The press release stated there will be a “particular focus on African American, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, women and LGBTQ applicants," according to the request for proposals released last October. No Irish or Italian, for generations the backbone of the NYPD, need apply was the clear subliminal message.
Yet the imbalance is not what people might have you believe. The NYPD is half white and half Hispanic, Black and other minorities. New York as a whole 44 percent white. This is not some monstrous disparity we are talking about.
Yes, there is a need for minority cops, especially in minority neighborhoods and in the higher levels of the police department. But they shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. The greatest police force in the world was built on the blood sweat and tears of the Irish. I hope Mayor de Blasio does not forget that.
It seems like he already has.