Catch Me If You Can

At one a.m. in the morning, it can be safe to say that most people are fast asleep.

But inside the 103rd Precinct, located in Jamaica of south Queens, its residents recently were awoken by the squeal of bagpipes and the thumping of helicopters flying by.

The purpose of all this clamoring was to pay homage to a police department hero who died in the line of duty.

Twenty years ago, February twenty-six nineteen eighty-eight, the New York Police Department lost a young rookie cop by the name of Edward Byrne. The policeman, who was in his first month on the job, was shot and killed. His orders were to stand guard and protect a witness who was sought after by a local drug lord.


Since November of two thousand and six, the citizens of this precinct have grieved for the loss of one of their own, with the much-publicized trial in the murder of a young black man, Sean Bell, well on its way.

Early that November morning, Bell was ambushed by a special division of the NYPD who fired fifty separate shots, killing him and wounding two of his friends.

The suspects on trial are currently employed by New York City’s finest and prior to the events of that night, they were operating inside Club Kalua, a strip club. The premise was a department-approved sting that required its officers to arrest would-be criminals who were involved in illegal drugs and prostitution that took place in and around the club.

The defendants are presently carrying charges of first-and second-degree manslaughter and one of the detectives is facing two misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment.

As this predominantly black community awaits the outcome of this very sensitive trial, a perception that Mr. Bell’s killing could be justified by the problems of the past is being portrayed by a wounded police department.



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