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Editorial: Into The January Night

The email press heads up from the mayor's office was routine. It was Friday evening and the mayor had three engagements before calling it a day. 

The first gathering was a vigil in the Bronx. This event would be open to the press, but there would be no Q&A.

The email continued: "Then, the Mayor will attend the Irish Echo Law and Order Award Ceremony. This event is open press. There will be no Q-and-A. After, the Mayor will deliver remarks at Shabbat services at Central Synagogue. This event is closed press."

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An evening of prayer, mediation and honoring the very best of those who keep our society safe.

The mayor's Friday night plans turned out to be unintentionally apropos for what would follow.

Mayor Eric Adams duly turned up at the Irish Echo Law & Order Awards. It was understood that he would stay a short while, work the room for a few minutes, and speak briefly from the podium.

All of this he did. And then he was gone, into the January night and on his way to the synagogue.

Also attending the awards would be the newly minted Commissioner of the NYPD, Keeshant Sewell. Her stopping by would be longer in duration. She did not want to speak, but rather spend some time with friends who, until just days ago, were colleagues of hers in the Nassau County Police Department.

One of the top honorees on the night, winner of the Outstanding Leadership Award, was Nassau County Commissioner Patrick Ryder.

Commissioner Sewell settled in, quietly and without fuss, for some well deserved, relative, down time.

That time would not last long. 

Not long into the awards presentations news began to seep into the room of a shooting up in Harlem, in the 32nd Precinct, and that it was a bad one.

As the minutes passed the news became graver and for those who took notice, or glanced towards the table where Commissioner Sewell had been seated, the gravity of the situation was confirmed.

The commissioner was gone; gone into the January night.

Awards winners get an opportunity to speak. And some of them now spoke of the events in Harlem. There were calls for prayers. One award winner called for a moment of silence and there was one on what is always a night of loud and lively conversation and laughter.

Also spoken of from the podium was Police Officer Steven McDonald, gone from us five years now. He, too, had been a victim of a criminal's bullets in a life changing moment that would result in paralysis and years on a ventilator and in a wheelchair.

A gathering of law enforcement men and women such as the Law & Order Awards is always an occasion for up front joviality, and background realism.

You just never know.

Later, on the 11 o'clock news, the city began to learn the grim details of the Harlem shooting. One officer, Jason Rivera, had lost his life. His partner had been critically wounded by an assassin's cowardly ambush.

There was a huge gathering of NYPD men and women at the hospital. Mayor Adams and Commissioner Sewell were there. It was a vigil, one filled with anger and angst.

The remains of Officer Rivera were driven downtown in an ambulance, escorted by his department comrades and saluted all the way by the NYPD, FDNY, citizens.

Later, on a January day, Tuesday, it was announced that Officer Wilbert Mora had died from his wounds.

The Law & Order Awards laud the very best, the finest. But it is never far from the mind that they recognize the meeting, head on, of those best among us with the very worst that our society all too often unleashes.

On a January Friday night in New York City the very best once again faced the very worst.

They say New York City never sleeps. Well, the NYPD never rests.

Officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora are resting now. May they be at peace.