New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, Inc.
3177 Latta Rd., #230
Rochester, NY 14612
518 355-3371
www.nychiefs.org

President: Timothy D. Parisi (Ilion PD)

Staff

Executive Director: Chief (Ret.) Patrick D. Phelan
Director, Research, Training and Development: Chief (Ret.) Larry Eggert
Treasurer: Asst. Chief (Ret.) Stephen Conner

Statement on the Ithaca Common Council

Officer Robert Walsh – Say his name!

On January 12th, 1981 Officer Robert Walsh worked his shift at the NYPD and then stopped at a bar on his way home. Several armed men entered the bar in a robbery attempt. Walsh was off duty but attempted to intervene and was shot in the shoulder by one of the armed robbers, Richard Rivera. As he lay wounded on the bar room floor, Rivera approached Walsh and executed him by shooting him again at point blank range. In doing so Rivera left Walsh’s three children without a father and made Robert Walsh’s wife a widow. This was not a mistake or an error in judgement. It was not a case of a young man falling in with the wrong crowd and making some poor decisions. This was a case of a monster who is evil in his heart and his soul executing a wounded man just because he could. It was an example of pure evil.

In 2019 Richard Rivera was released on parole. The parole of Rivera alone is a slap in the face to those who survived the execution of Robert Walsh, his widow, and children. And his brothers and sisters at the NYPD. They are left to wonder why Richard Rivera is given a second chance when he gave Robert Walsh a death sentence when he shot him in the head in cold blood. Where is the justice in giving freedom to a man who is capable of committing murder for murders sake, who could execute a wounded man for no reason. Surely a man this evil should be incarcerated, if only to protect the next person he decides to execute. But not in New York. In New York he is set free while Robert Walsh lies in a cemetery.

As if all of this was not disgusting enough, the Ithaca Common Council decided to make murderer Richard Rivera a member of the city of Ithaca’s reimagining public safety collaborative. Apparently, the Mayor of Ithaca and the Ithaca Common Council feel that a man who murdered a police officer in cold blood can provide useful and meaningful input into how public safety should be carried out.  

It is difficult to imagine how a group of people could be so imbecilic as to completely disregard the effect that such an action would have on both the family of Robert Walsh and on police officers everywhere. The insensitivity of the Ithaca Common Council with regard to the Walsh family is nothing short of heartless. It is simply cruel to do this to the Walsh family. Webster's dictionary defines bigotry as; obstinate or intolerant devotion to one’s own opinions and prejudices; the state of mind of being a bigot. The complete disregard the Ithaca Common Council has shown for the members of New York law enforcement by placing a cop murderer on the collaborative that makes recommendations on policing shows them to be what they are; bigots blinded by hate and intolerance.

Last night the Ithaca Common Council voted to disband their police department and replace it with a department of community solutions and public safety staffed by unarmed community solutions workers.  It is an extreme understatement to say that this is a misguided, ignorant, reckless act. The years to come will expose the dramatic effect this action will have on public safety. Unfortunately, many people will have to be victimized to demonstrate the reckless ignorance of the Ithaca Common Council.