The History of the Italian Roots of the New York Police Department – Part 2
Part one of our blog about the history of the roots of the Italian immigrants on the New York City Police Department finished with high tensions between the two parties. A program was being put into place to rectify the situation which was to enroll more Italians into the police force and the justice system as a whole. This faced strong opposition from many Irish Americans within the police force as they were very skeptical if the Italians could actually perform their duties.
Newspapers at the time were warning the community that if the tensions did not lessen, there’s a chance that even greater conflicts and disasters will tear at the fabric of the city. And this message of possible danger was no idle threat. As the hanging of eleven Italian Americans in 1890 in New Orleans displayed, they were lynched for the murder of Police Chief Hennessy, but were later cleared of the crime.
The police then tried to implicate a man called Farrelli as the mastermind of the murder of Hennessy who was the saloonkeeper who had murdered a policeman a year earlier. The real truth was that Farrelli was simply a deranged individual who was prone to violence towards anybody.
The Liu and Ramos Case
A similar parallel was the shooting of officers Liu and Ramos as they sat in their patrol car by a man named Ismaaiyl Brinsley. He, too, was mentally unstable and committed suicide shortly after the shooting. There was a conspiracy theory at the time that he was acting on some sort of Italian anti-police agenda.
The truth was that Brinsley was demented, but the incident did highlight the diversity that was now in the New York Police Department, as officer Liu was Chinese American and office Ramos was from Puerto Rico. This was largely because of the effort of the police commissioner at the time Ray Kelly.
At the funeral of the two officers there were members of the New York City Police Department from fifty different countries. The solution to the Italian American immigrant and police situation was finally coming home to roost. It was all a far cry from a hundred years earlier when another police officer was laid to rest. It had been a long and uneven road for the acceptance of Italian Americans into the New York Police Force and for that matter for their acceptance into the wider New York Community.
The funeral of Detective Joe Petrosino was a landmark, he became possibly the greatest ever hero of the NYCPD when he was slain on an undercover mission in Sicily in 1909. This further underlined the importance of varied point of views. Little by little the situation in NYPD changed as the department became more diverse. Obviously, the rest is history and the New York City Police Department is one of the most multicultural in the world today.