Steven Fulop, the mayor of Jersey City, where a police officer, Melvin Santiago, was shot and killed while responding to an armed robbery call last weekend, has penned a column to explain the "lessons" he learned from the tragedy. The op-ed leaves the impression that the mayor has missed some basic civics/constitution lessons somewhere along the way even though he's got the substance-less rhetoric thing down cold.
He thinks he should've asked the media not to run the cop killer's name, Lawrence Campbell, which ought to be a ridiculous notion. The Star Ledger, where the column ran, and other local papers should make it clear to Fulop and other political leaders that that's not the way they work (unless, sadly, it is). Fulop explains his wish:
With hindsight, if I could do it over, I would have shared with media the reprehensible action but asked journalists not to report the name of the killer. As a society in a 24-hour news cycle, we filled the killer's last desire.
Infamy has become a common request of killers. The media, providing what it believes the public wants, constantly fulfills the request by reporting on the incident essentially as the killer requested. Whether it was Newtown or Columbine or this Jersey City police killer, I think we as a community can learn here and do better by not giving the killers what they so desire.
Even if police hadn't shot and killed Campbell after he allegedly killed a cop but merely taken him into custody, it would be inappropriate to withhold the name of someone being accused of murder. For different reasons it's not appropriate to withhold the name of someone that was killed by police, even if it was during the alleged commission of a crime. Fulop should know this kind of stuff.
It gets worse. Residents where Campbell lived put up a memorial after he was killed and the mayor, proudly, ordered it taken down. Campbell's wife, grieving the loss of her husband, told a news reporter she wished he would've taken more cops with him if they were going to kill him anyway, something that enraged other residents of Jersey City, cops across the state, and some members of the media. Eventually she apologized for her comment. Jersey City's mayor thinks he needs to get people like Campbell's wife (and, presumably, Campbell) on the same page he thinks he and the rest of Jersey City is on. From the op-ed:
The wife's comments and the shrine are appalling, yes … disgusting, yes … and ignorant, yes. Still, this gives us the chance to think about where we as a community have not connected along the way in that some people can feel this way toward our society. Every city in this nation puts police out every single day to protect residents, yet every city also has people that, sadly, feel as the killer's wife does.
So, this becomes a teachable moment we shouldn't just discard because we are shocked by the brutality of her comments. Yes, it is a long-term fix that includes better education leading to secure jobs and a justice system that is equitable. It is easier to dismiss her comments, but, though much harder, it is appropriate — as elected officials and members of society — to try to understand why she feels that way.
As we said in the Marine Corps, we can't leave anyone behind, and in this case we are missing some people at some level.
It's like a play on that old military slogan, he's said so little with so much he could say nothing forever.
Fulop also pointed out that many other municipalities in Hudson County (some of whom are not doing well fiscal-wise) "volunteered" to send officers to patrol Jersey City so that Jersey City cops could attend Santiago's funeral. This rather unsurprising inter-city show of support by cops, for Fulop, was evidence that elected officials "can work together behind the scenes for the greater good."
Despite a warning in a leaked police memo about gang members in other towns being encouraged to come to Jersey City to kill a police officer and that gang members were hiding assault rifles in abandoned building, no other cop have been shot or otherwise targeted since last weekend.