NEW YORK — Whenever tragedy strikes, the question of whether or not it could have been prevented arises. In the case of the killing of NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia, who was shot by an ex-convict at very close range through a police vehicle window, the prevention question is centered around how prevalent bulletproof glass is among NYPD vehicles.
Both an expert and an experienced lawmaker are promoting bulletproofing for NYPD mobile command centers. Ofcr. Familia was seated inside of one when she was gunned down.
"[Those are] stationary vehicle[s]. They're not allowed to move," said retired NYPD Detective Sergeant Joseph Giacalone. "You would think these would be the first cars to [be bulletproofed] because that would be the most dangerous time, when you're sitting there."
Giacalone is now a criminologist at John Jay College and author of "The Criminal Investigative Function," one of the most widely used textbooks on crimefighting. He said that preventing harm to officers by providing them resources like bulletproof glass-protected vehicles is a way to avert tragedies like the killing of Ofcr. Familia.
State Senator Marty Golden, who is also a retired NYPD cop, agrees with Giacalone.
"You give them the right tools, they'll be safer, Golden said.
Golden has successfully led efforts in the state legislature to get bulletproof glass installed on police vehicles. Since 2015, Golden's work has secured two separate state grants of $10 million for police vehicle window bulletproofing. In each case, $4 million of the total went to bulletproofing NYPD vehicles.
At a cost of about $12,000 per car for vehicle outfitting, only about eight percent of NYPD vehicles have been able to get bulletproof protection, so far.
"There's a huge fleet in New York City," said Giacalone. "Which cars get [the bulletproofing]? I'd say the ones that do these [mobile command] posts should be the Number One and I would want to know why they weren't."
Giacalone answered his own query, by adding that it's a funding issue. State Sen. Golden agreed.
"We need additional dollars," Golden told PIX11 News, "but we need the process expedited."
The NYPD, and in particular its commissioner, have welcomed the bulletproofing. The death of Ofcr. Familia is a tragedy that brings to the fore the question of whether or not efforts to get more money for more bulletproofing will be fruitful.
"We take every tragic situation and try to learn from it," NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said at a news conference Wednesday morning.
For now, he and his department prepare to bury their 12-year veteran officer. What role her tragic loss will play in the improvement of other officers' safety remains an open question.