The men and women of the department realize they are far from perfect. But we know that while bad apples there indeed may be, they are very rare. As I mentioned to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea during a recent meeting, this point particularly resonates with me, as I have seen the overwhelming majority of good, faithful priests tarred by the heinous actions of a very few.
Not long after I arrived here, I was walking down the center aisle of the cathedral after Sunday Mass. From out of the congregation jumped a man holding an object in his hand. What he was clutching I did not know, but I have to admit, I feared it to be a pistol. Apparently, the officer on duty that morning did, too. He lunged not at the man, but at me, shielding me from the rushing congregant. Then we both saw the man was holding a cross, which he asked me to bless.
What moved me was the police officer’s spontaneous instinct to protect me, literally “to take a bullet for me.” The NYPD would do that for any of us, members of the community they swear to serve and protect.