By Mary O’KEEFE
Two Burbank police officers traveled to New York to join thousands of mourners, many of them officers from all over the country, in paying their last respects to fallen brothers.
Officers Chris Canales and Adam Chang were at the funeral of New York City Officer Wenjian Liu on Jan. 4.
On the afternoon of Dec. 20, Liu and NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos were working as part of an anti-terrorism drill when they were each shot in the head at point-blank range by a gunman, later identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, according to reports.
“They were assassinated,” Canales said.
The two NYPD officers were in a marked car and in full uniform when they were murdered. Canales said he and Chang wanted to go to New York to show solidarity for their fellow police officers and to show respect for the murdered officers.
Law enforcement from around the country was in attendance at Liu’s funeral, as well as Ramos’s funeral that took place days before.
Canales added that he was impressed by the showing of fellow officers but was overwhelmed by the support he saw from the citizens of New York. The Burbank officers also went to the 72nd Precinct, where the officers were stationed.
“We paid our respects and the [captain] could not believe the support,” he said. “He had a tear in his eye when he thanked us for being there.”
Canales added that law enforcement officers risk their lives on a daily basis, and there are tragedies; however, these murders were different and affected the community of law enforcement in a way that called to them to attend the funeral.
The execution-type murders of the officers followed several weeks of tensions sparked by a Staten Island grand jury’s decision against the indictment of a police officer for the chokehold that contributed to Eric Garner’s death.
Canales did not comment on that decision specifically but does think there needs to be transparency in the way law enforcement deals with suspects and the subsequent legal penalties.
“The legal system needs to be adhered to,” he said.
He does worry about future violence against law enforcement from all types of areas, including terrorism.
“I don’t think people quite realize what [life would be like] without police officers,” he said. “I am concerned about safety. As a supervisor, I tell my younger officers every day to be careful.”
So many officers were able to attend the funerals thanks in part to Jet Blue Airlines that offered to sponsor two officers from every agency who wanted to go. In total, 20 Southern California officers were able to attend.
Canales said he is grateful for the support of law enforcement from the people of Burbank, city manager Mark Scott and BPD Chief Scott Lachasse.
“Officer Chang and I were [honored] to represent Burbank to honor Officer Liu,” he said.