Domestic calls are some of the most dangerous police officers face because they often don’t know what they’re getting into.
The latest numbers from the NYPD show that through the first nine months of 2021, they handled 139,075 domestic violence complaints and radio calls. That’s on a yearly pace of about 9 percent more than the 179,200 they handled in all of 2020.
NYPD officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora were killed when they responded to a domestic situation. Lashawn McNeil, 27, burst out of bedroom and opened fire. A third officer shot McNeil, who subsequently died.
On the PIX11 morning news, Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund President Jason Johnson called the killings an “ambush where the offices were really drawn in for the sole purpose of being murdered..”
Johnson worked as a patrol officer in Prince George’s County, Maryland. He was also a police academy trainer and rose to the rank of major. He later served as deputy police commissioner in Baltimore.
Johnson said that when a domestic call comes in, officers “want to gather as much information as possible about who is involved, whether there are any weapons involved, whether the participants have any criminal histories, mental illness, are intoxicated with drugs or alcohol. They want to have as much information as possible.”
Unfortunately, that information is often unavailable.
“That’s the real key ingredient here….the officers …typically don’t know much about what they’re going to face” said Johnson. “They’re at a huge disadvantage because they don’t know what’s behind the door and they’re not necessarily ready for it.”
Are there things that can be done? Johnson said social workers play an important role in dealing with the emotionally disturbed and others. But he calls the deaths of Rivera and Mora “sad evidence” that police officers need to be the first responders because of the ever present potential for violence.