A man convicted of murdering a New York City police officer is now being asked to help reform policing in New York state.
Richard Rivera, convicted of murdering off-duty officer and father of four Robert Walsh execution-style in 1981, will sit on a panel for Ithaca and Tompkins County, New York, as part of an advisory group known as the Reimagining Public Safety Collaborative, according to the New York Post.
The group was established as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order for municipalities to submit police-reform plans to the state by Wednesday in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.
“I know people are going to be critical,’’ the 56-year-old Rivera said about his position on the panel. “I don’t know if [Walsh’s] family would find this acceptable. I can’t control that. What I can control is the way I’ve been living my life.”
One of Walsh’s family members has reacted to the news and expressed frustration that Rivera is involved.
“We’re completely shocked that the man who murdered my father is being trusted to create police reforms,” Robert Walsh Jr., a 47-year-old son of the slain officer, said about the situation.
“My father dedicated his life to serving and protecting New Yorkers,” Walsh Jr. added. “He should be the one serving on a panel to help reimagine policing, but he’ll never get that chance.”
Rivera was released from prison in 2019 after serving 39 years for murdering the 36-year-old Walsh as he was sitting at a bar after a shift.
In 1981, Rivera, who was 16 years old at the time, walked into the Queens, New York, bar with the intention of robbing the establishment and shot Walsh in the shoulder after the officer identified himself as law enforcement. The masked teenager then walked over to the wounded officer and shot him point-blank in the head, killing him.
“I live my life in a way that honors and respects [Officer Walsh’s] memory,” Rivera told the New York Post. “That is advocating for people who can’t advocate for themselves.”
Pat Lynch, president of the New York City Police Benevolent Association, sees the situation differently.
It’s outrageous and despicable,’’ Lynch said. “Not only did this cop killer get paroled, but now he gets a seat at the table to help dismantle a police department. Did anybody expect him to be fair and open-minded in his review?”
Author : Andrew Mark Miller
Source : Washington Examiner : Man convicted of executing NYPD officer assigned to panel tasked with reforming New York police