West Michigan law enforcement pay respects to fallen NYPD officer

Posted at 10:20 PM, Jan 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-01 23:20:06-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- They were two senseless murders motivated by the controversy surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

The effects of the shooting deaths of New York Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu are being felt nationwide, including in West Michigan.

Grand Rapids Police Lt. Patrick Dean says this is a reminder for all officers to be "ready at all times."

Lt. Dean and four other members of West Michigan law enforcement will travel to Officer Liu's funeral in New York this weekend.

“It was pretty shocking," Dean said of the murders. "Broad daylight, you know, in a busy part of the city."

The assassinations of the officers hit Dean especially hard. He’s the son of a 38-year NYPD veteran -- and he's a former NYPD officer himself. Dean’s sister and brother both still serve with the department.

“My sister has been working some of the overtime due to the protests that are going on out there as well," he said, "and basically has worked that same detail that the two officers were working, so it really struck a chord there."

It all serves as a reminder of the daily dangers that law enforcement officers face.

"There are things that happen in police work that you have to be ready for at all times, and this is one," Dean said. "And this will be a learning experience for a lot of officers. It will reiterate to them the need to be cautious out there."

Jet Blue is offering officers around the country the chance to pay their respects, providing free airfare to members of law enforcement to New York for the NYPD officer’s funerals.

"We’re all a brotherhood," Dean said. "We all look out for each other, and unless you’re actually part of that brotherhood, it’s very hard for somebody to understand."

This is a time of bonding during an especially tough time for police across the country, as shootings targeting law enforcement are on the rise.

"This could happen anywhere,” Dean said. "It could be Grand Rapids. We’re just hoping that it settles down and people come to the realization that we’re not out there to hurt anybody and our job is to protect people."

The officers will leave Friday to attend the funeral of Officer Wenjian Liu on Sunday.