Killing Of New York City Officer Shows Vulnerability Of Police Cars


New York City police officer Brian Moore, 25, was shot and killed behind the wheel of his unmarked police car in early May. That killing came four months after Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were fatally ambushed in their car. In decades past, says the New York Times, officers were criticized for spending too much time in their cars, disengaged from the the neighborhoods they cruised through. Community policing initiatives brought back vestiges of the foot patrolman walking a beat, but the cars didn't go away. To an officer, the car is, psychologically, a safe place. Officers take meal breaks in their cars, check their phones, talk, gossip, joke. “The car is your home,” said Thomas Nerney, a retired New York City police officer. “And you rarely leave it.”

Homes are better fortified. “When you get into the car, you become a target,” Nerney says. Said one police official: “It's a completely vulnerable situation to be in … You're trapped …You're probably having a hard time getting to your gun,” he continued, citing equipment, including a computer between the front seats, that most police cars carry. “If you have to turn around, your mobility is restricted to see which way your opposition went. If you had to shoot forward, you'd be shooting through the windshield. It's the last place you want to be when the shots start going.” After a death under these circumstances, calls are sounded for better protection. Some legislators would outfit police cars with bulletproof windows. Police Commissioner William Bratton called the idea impractical and costly, at $50,000 per car. “An officer trapped in a vehicle would not be able to get out by breaking the window,” he said.

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