When a convicted cop-killer gets to help 're-imagine' policing
Ithaca, NY resident Richard Rivera sits on a committee called "Re-Imagining Public Safety," which is responsible for suggesting reforms to the Ithaca Police Department. Mandated by New York State governor Andrew Cuomo, all 500 police agencies throughout N.Y. were tasked with holding public meetings in order to gather input about how best to operate. The participants in the Ithaca initiative chose to basically disband the police department and replace it with a hybrid group of armed and unarmed de-escalation people who would replace the traditional way of policing.
Fifty-six-year-old Richard Rivera is alive and healthy. He has a girlfriend and a nice job working for a non-profit in Ithaca, and he also sits on the committee called Re-Imagining Public Safety.
Robert Walsh is dead.
Walsh was a decorated, twelve-year veteran police officer in New York City. He had four children and a wife in 1981 when he was murdered, execution-style, by Rivera in a Queens, New York bar robbery gone bad.
Walsh had just finished his 3-11 tour of duty and was having a beer after work at the BVD Bar and Grille on Flushing Avenue when Rivera and several others entered the bar, guns drawn, in the commencement of a robbery. As Walsh moved to thwart the men, Rivera shot him in the shoulder. The impact disarmed Walsh and put him on the floor, writhing in pain and begging for his life. Rivera put the barrel of his gun to Walsh's head and executed him on the barroom floor.
Rivera served 39 years in prison for murdering Robert Walsh.
Walsh was a father of four. They all grew up without their father. This is what one daughter had to say some thirty-plus years later about her dad:
Today is my Dad's Birthday. What memories I have of you are never lost. If I try real hard I can still hear what your voice sounds like. I always think of how better my life would have been if I was lucky enough to still have you in it. I think of what kind of relationship we would have had. I know you have watched over Ella in her times of need. Thank you Daddy! I hope you always watch me and my family and keep us in your embrace. I will talk with you soon. Love you.
This is what the New York City police commissioner had to say about this tragedy in 1981: "It's ironic that a cop can get a death sentence for being a cop, but there are no death penalties for people who kill cops."
Robert Walsh is still dead. By now he has a host of grandchildren whose births he missed, concerts he will not hear, and graduations he will not attend. It's a family of children he will never know, never influence, love, or fawn over because he is gone, only a memory.
The City of Ithaca, NY is Re-Imagining Public Safety with input from a convicted cop-killer. This is my version of re-imagined public safety. I believe that the public would be much safer if Mr. Rivera were dead and Officer Walsh were very much alive as a retired NYPD police officer, perhaps living in retirement in Ithaca and being a member of the Re-Imagining Public Safety Committee, with all of the knowledge and experience he would have brought to that endeavor. But that is not the world in which we live.
The stark reality is that Richard Rivera is alive and healthy. He has a girlfriend and a nice job working for a non-profit in Ithaca, and he also sits on the committee called Re-Imagining Public Safety.
Those in Ithaca who support this, defend it, even celebrate it ought to be recognized for the vile, twisted human beings they are. Instead, Ithaca, ten square miles of insanity surrounded by reality, will forevermore be the crack in their famous gorges that apparently allowed Satan to escape to the Earth's surface, in the form of those who believe that this is a good idea.
Bob Kingsley is a private investigator and writer. Check his blog at bobkingsley.com.
Image via Max Pixel.