‘You’ve Got To Pray For Their Safety’
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Police officers need the public’s support and backup from elected officials, a top NYPD chaplain said in the wake of the shooting deaths of officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora.
“You’ve got to pray. You’ve got to pray for their safety,” Msgr. David Cassato, deputy chief chaplain of the NYPD, told Currents News.
Msgr. Cassato, who is also the pastor of St. Athanasius Church in Bensonhurst, called on the city’s crime-weary residents to urge elected officials to pass stronger legislation to curb shootings and street violence.
“I think basically the issue comes from if there’s too much liberalism to the laws and the district attorneys, etc, in our city. And we need to try to really put that under control,” he said. “Talk up to your politicians [and tell them] that we want stricter laws when it comes to taking care of our police officers.”
“I think it’s a real serious situation,” Msgr. Cassato said, adding that in light of the recent spate of attacks on cops, he understands why young people would begin to question if they should even consider joining the NYPD.
“You’ve got to try to really encourage them because hopefully times change. Hopefully, through our politicians, we get back to some more law and order in society,” he said.
Msgr. Cassato has forged a close relationship with police officers. In the Currents News interview, he recalled a 24-year-old cop who comes to Mass at St. Athanasius on Sundays with his parents and his sister.
“I said to the mother and father, ‘Hold on, I’ve got you covered. We’re praying for your son — for God to watch over him,’ ” he said.
Msgr. Cassato also called out six police officers who attended Mass on Sunday, Jan. 23 with their families and asked the congregation to give them a round of applause.
“The whole church applauded for the great work of the police department of our city. These police officers, like other times, run into situations and make things better,” he said.
At this point in time, Msgr. Cassato said, the chaplains who serve the NYPD are seeking to offer comfort to the families of Rivera, who died on Jan. 21, and Mora, who passed away on Jan. 25.
“First, you just try to be with them. Can you imagine dealing with families today, those poor families? And you just try to be with them and walk them through the moment,” he said.