It was a cold, gray day in NYC. Thousands of NYPD officers stood at attention on Fifth Avenue to render a final hand salute to their fallen brother in blue. Jason Rivera was gunned down in a Harlem hallway on 21 January 2022 while responding to a domestic disturbance call.
NYC is a god-awful dysfunctional mess. Departments eyeballing other departments with wariness, jealousy and distrust. Suits jockeying for position within the power hierarchy. Scandal, backstabbing, malicious gossip, half-truths; a freaking mess anyway you look at it. A tsunami of poor leadership has turned a once vibrant city into a lawless, violent hellhole. One of a handful of American cities that sweep the dysfunctional awards each year.
Jason's wife, Dominique, in a heart breaking and highly personal eulogy candidly told us she and Jason had a quarrel the morning of his death. You asked me, "Are you sure you don't want me to take you home, it might be the last ride I give you?" I said, "No, and that was probably the biggest mistake I'll ever make."
Dominique recalled the moment she learned of the shooting. "My heart dropped, I immediately texted you and asked are you okay? Please tell me you're okay." At Harlem Hospital, "Nobody was telling me anything. Dozens of people surrounded me, and yet I felt alone. I couldn't believe you left me."
Dominique and Jason were childhood sweethearts who had only been married three months before he was KIA. "I'm still in this nightmare that I wish I never had, full of rage and anger, hurt and sad, torn."
Dominique tells us, "The system continues to fail us: we are not safe anymore. Not even the members of the service." She went on to tell us how her husband was tired of the ineptness of the NYC district attorney. Dominique hoped that he was "watching you speak through me right now." Before stepping away from the pulpit at Saint Patrick's Cathedral she added: "I promise, we promise that your death won't be in vain. I love you to the end of time. We'll take the watch from here."
DEA Watch readers can admire Jason's wife, Dominique, for excellence is of the few. She had the courage to stand by her convictions, even if that meant going against the powerful political establishment of NYC. Her heart and not her opinions from others form her true honor. She owed no one an explanation for what she said will keep her on a path to inner peace.
Being a LEO creates many unique and difficult marital strains brought about by shift work, long hours, traumatizing images and the divided commitment between work and family responsibilities. Oftentimes, unable to shed the violence and horrors we experience we bring these stressors into our home. To deal with violence we detach emotionally with a dire impact on our marriage. We must learn to turn it off at home by taking off the invisible armor.
Jason and his partner, after a wary peak, stepped into the railroad flat's hallway: a killing liar, dark, tight quarters hemmed in by vertical walls. They paused, spoke in hushed tones and then instead of waiting and assessing moved forward without a fight plan.
Their executioner, wrapped in a drug induced deadly calm, hidden and tucked away in a backroom threw the kill switch.
Both cops hesitated, halted, their animalistic sixth sense had kicked in and hinted at the presence of danger. A frozen vignette with death a hair's breadth away. Their adrenaline meter bumped up but not pegged, they disregarded their instinctive alarm bells
Their executioner with his mind now in hyper kinetic drive burst from behind a closed door. His weapon's blast was deafening within the enclosed space as the sound echoed and reverberated with each pull of the trigger. Head shots, two dead cops.
Sometimes after a LEO is KIA we need to shift our perspective. A closed mind or a presumptive perspective will often stand in our way from solving problems and accurately analyzing what happened. We must have open and unimpeded communications. We must ask the right questions and keep asking them when studying critical incidents and tragedies
After a tragic outcome many agencies simply blame the LEO and take no further action. Don't wait until a similar calamity strikes your agency. Ask, "could that happen here?" Remember the clock is ticking
Recently a DEA Watch reader was shot dead, and his partner seriously wounded. DEA Watch readers need to achieve the highest levels of discipline, marksmanship, fitness, espirit de corps and just plain grit and determination.
In a subsequent Tactical Takeaway, we will discuss how Jason and his partner might have lived. and not been zipped into body bags
"Live a life worth living, die a death worth dying for."...Miyamoto Musashi