BY WILLIAM MURPHY. STAFF WRITER
Copyright 2005 Newsday, Inc.
Newsday (New York)
The slaying of a police officer has become rarer in the past couple of decades nationwide and in the city, according to officials.
But the killing of a uniformed police officer like Dillon Stewart is even rarer.
Stewart was one of only three uniformed city officers killed by criminals in the past decade, according to statistics of the New York City Police Memorial and press reports at the times of the killings. It was seven years ago, in 1998, that the last uniformed New York City police officers - Anthony Mosomillo and Gerard Carter - were slain in separate incidents.
Society is shocked by the slaying of a uniformed police officers because they represent the barrier between criminals and citizens, said City Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Astoria), the chairman of the Committee on Public Safety. The law provides for harsher penalties for such crimes, he said.
The slaying of police officers was "almost a daily event" in the 1970s when the Black Liberation Army was accused of targeting officers for death, said Thomas Reppetto, executive director of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, in an interview yesterday.
"In the 1970s, there were quite a few [officers slain], but they are not as common today," Reppetto said.
Thirty city officers were killed in the line of duty in the past decade, not including Stewart, according to the Web page of the police memorial.
Fifteen - most of them working in street clothes - were slain by other people, and 15 died in auto accidents, or from heart attacks or other medical conditions, according to the information. The last uniformed police officer to die in the line of duty was William Rivera, fatally injured last year when he fell from a roof chasing a suspect.
A drop in police killings nationwide has come at the same time as decline in crime overall. The killing of police officers has declined for three decades, down by 36 percent, said Bruce Mendelsohn of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
November 29, 2005
Killing of uniformed officers a rare happening