FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 26, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, POLICE COMMISSIONER KELLY, AND QUEENS DISTRICT ATTORNEY BROWN BRIEF NEW YORKERS ON THE SHOOTING OF POLICE OFFICER RODNEY LEWIS
Following Are the Mayor’s Remarks at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center This Morning As Delivered:
"Well, good morning. I am here with Police Commissioner Kelly, and Queens District Attorney Dick Brown, Chief of Department Joe Esposito, Chief of Patrol Robert Giannelli, Chief of Internal Affairs Charles Campisi, the Assistant Chief Kathy Ryan, who is our - Kathy, where are you? There you are - who is our Chief of Domestic Violence for the NYPD, and the NYPD's Chief Surgeon Eli Kleinman. At about 5 o'clock this morning, Officer Rodney Lewis, a four and a half year veteran of the NYPD - who incidentally previously served our city as a Correction Officer - was shot while responding to a domestic violence 911 call in the Ridgewood section of Queens.
"I've just met with Officer Lewis and his wife, as well as the excellent medical staff here at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center. The bullet, which is lodged in his skin under his left arm, traveled between the panels of his bulletproof vest. He is, however, awake and in very good spirits - especially considering the grave possibility of what could have been this morning. But most importantly, the doctors say that Officer Lewis is likely to make a full recovery.
"Commissioner Kelly will fill in the details of what happened this morning for you in a few moments, but before he does I just wanted to make a couple of points. The first is about domestic violence cases. Six or seven years ago, there were many so-called experts who felt that crime could not get any lower in New York City. Some doubted we could even hold the line against crime. Few thought it could fall further - especially in some of the more stubborn elements facing our society, like domestic violence.
"But instead of listening to the naysayers, Commissioner Kelly, working with our Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt, our Commissioner of Domestic Violence Yolanda Jimenez, and the five District Attorneys, attacked the challenge of fighting domestic violence crimes that so often happens behind the apartment doors.
"We opened Family Justice Centers in Brooklyn and last year in Queens so that the District Attorneys and counselors can work side by side to battle the scourge of domestic violence, no matter what form it comes in. Since opening the Queens Center, that center has helped 8,200 victims of domestic violence. Our center in The Bronx, as you know, is expected to open early next year and we expect that to also make a big difference.
"And through those efforts, the number of domestic violence-related murders in our city, I'm happy to say, has fallen by 32 percent over the last six years. All domestic violence crime is down 25 percent in the last six years.
"As of this week - year to year comparisons - there were 39 domestic violence related homicides in New York City last year, and this year it's only been 31 for the same time period - and that includes the changes we've made to extend domestic violence protection to what we call 'intimate partners' - not just spouses or people who lived together in a family-style relationship. So we have increased the universe which should make it more difficult to reduce the numbers, and the truth of the matter is even including that expanded definition, we have continue to fight the scourge and bring domestic violence murders down. 31 murders is obviously 31 murders too many, but the good news is it is a big change and a change in the right direction.
"But one thing hasn't changed - and that's the men and women on patrol for the NYPD fighting the plague of domestic violence in our city. Our gains would be impossible without them. And thankfully today Officer Lewis did not fall in the line of that battle.
"My second point that I wanted to make this morning is one we've spoken about so many times before at hospitals across this city. Illegal guns kill cops - plain and simple. We believe that the individual in question here is a convicted felon who just recently left prison. There is no conceivable scenario in which he could have legally possessed a firearm, let alone concealed it on his person.
"So often, sadly, I stand here and tell New Yorkers we're fighting a war on illegal guns on two fronts - on the streets of our city, and in the halls of government in Washington, especially Congress.
"This time, I can say there is at least a little hope. Our Mayors Against Illegal Guns and our Senators - senior Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand - successfully battled this week to defeat the Thune amendment, which would have eviscerated our concealed carry laws and dumbed down gun laws to the lowest common denominator anywhere in the United States. Make no mistake about it - the Thune amendment would have increased the number of illegal guns on our streets and made it far easier to get them from states with lax gun laws onto the streets of Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx and Manhattan.
"And while those who opposed common-sense laws against illegal guns are undoubtedly undeterred, we'd all be far worse off if this horrible piece of legislation had passed this past week. So I suppose that's some good news. The best news that I have this morning is that the prognosis for Officer Lewis is that he will fully recover from his wounds and I think he's just another example of a man or woman who puts their lives on the line every day to protect the rest of us."
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958