Thursday, February 7, 2008
“He Was A Little Boy To His Mother And Father, But He Was A Man To Us”
– Rev. Richard H. Dixon, Jr.,
Mount Vernon Police Chaplain
The life of Officer Christopher A. Ridley, 23, snuffed out in a hail of gunfire from at least two of four Westchester County Police Officers, at approximately 5pm Friday, January 25, on the sidewalk in front of 85 Court Street, White Plains, must be respected and celebrated. Young men of his dedication and temperament come our way far too infrequently. Were it not for his noble public spirit, and his literal translation and interpretation of his 24/7 responsibility as a police officer, he would be alive today; a 58-year-old Bronx man might very well be
dead, and the judgment, and possibly the careers, of four Westchester County Police Officers, would not be in question.
What Officer Ridley, of the Mount Vernon Police Department, did very obviously came very naturally to him; a spontaneous gesture without precalculation, a selfless and right-headed act, the very response we would have expected of him. Those who knew him
on the job, those who watched him mature into a gentle, but potent, adult, a force for good in both his professional and private life, mourn his tragic loss, not only to his family and friends, but also to the entire Mount Vernon community.
Mount Vernon Mayor Clinton Young expressed it best at last Tuesday’s posthumous promotion of Ridley to Detective, when he told those
gathered in City Council Chambers, “Detective Ridley will forever be known as a role model and a hero to generations to come.”
The somber ceremony, in which a plaque bearing the fallen hero patrolman’s badge, number 2174, and his posthumously-awarded gold detective’s shield, number 11, together with a shoulder patch, and the inscription, “In Memory Of Detective Christopher A. Ridley, #11, Mount Vernon Police Department,” was presented to his family by Mayor Young, was deeply moving.
Police Commissioner David Chong captured the essence of Officer Ridley’s achievement, declaring, “A detective’s gold shield is one of the most recognized badges in law enforcement. It is a badge that you cannot take an exam for; it is a badge that can only be earned. So, for duty above and beyond the call of duty, and for his ultimate sacrifice, today we collectively, as a City, and as a Police Department, honor
our son, our brother, our friend, Police Of-ficer Christopher A. Ridley.”
Those in the press and media who have been attempting to inform the public with regard to the tragic circumstances of Officer Ridley’s death, have been frustrated by what appears to be a calculated attempt to manage and slow down the dissemination of information. A so-called press conference, scheduled for 3pm Saturday the 26th, actually commenced well beyond 4pm, some 23 hours after the incident, was held in the corridor of the White Plains City Court, a building that also houses Police Headquarters. Facing reporters and cameras were White Plains Commissioner Frank Straub, County Public Safety Commissioner Tom Bel-fiore, and Mount Vernon Police Commissioner David Chong, as well as Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore.
All three police commissioners made statements acknowledging the tragic incident, Commissioner Chong’s the longest. Visibly shaken
and hoarse, he concluded his remarks with, “Officer Christopher Ridley was a quiet and kind soul. I knew him as a young officer with unlimited potential.”
District Attorney DiFiore accompanied at the press conference by Assistant DAs Patricia Murphy, Mike Hughes, and Lana Hochheiser, offered no comment. Following Commissioner Chong’s remarks, White Plains Commissioner Straub abruptly told reporters, “There will be no questions.”
As the Commissioners and the District Attorney exited the corridor, several reporters turned to Mount Vernon PBA President Kevin
Mandel, who had been observing the press conference, together with more than 25 Mount Vernon police officers from an area cordoned off
some 30 feet behind the press and media. Mandel quickly seized the opportunity to set the record straight, telling reporters, “It’s good that
they finally said that Christopher acted as a hero. Chris loved being a cop and he did nothing wrong.”