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The rookie cop who was shot and killed while responding to a domestic violence call in Harlem Friday wanted to join the NYPD to “better the relationship between the community and the police,” he wrote in a letter obtained by The Post.
Officer Jason Rivera, 22, said his experience growing up in Inwood, where relations between police and the community were strained during the stop and frisk era, inspired him to become the first in his family to join New York’s Finest.
“When I applied to become a police officer, I knew this was the career for me,” he wrote in a letter to the commanding officer of the police academy in November 2020.
“Coming from an immigrant family, I will be the first to say that I am a member of the NYPD, the greatest police force in the world,” Rivera wrote.
The earnest “Why I Became a Police Officer” letter detailed how Rivera once watched his brother get stopped and frisked after they were pulled over in a taxi, and said that at the time, his “perspective on police and the way they police really bothered me.”
“Growing up in Inwood, Manhattan, the community’s relationship between the police and community was not great,” Rivera wrote. “I was too young to know that during that time, the NYPD was pulling over and frisking people at a high rate.”
Rivera said he then watched the department “pushing hard” to change its policies and improve its relationship with the community.
“This was when I realized that I wanted to be a part of the men in blue: [to] better the relationship between the community and the police.”
Rivera said that he believed he could make a difference as a member of the force in “this chaotic city.”
“Something as small as helping a tourist with directions, or helping a couple resolve an issue will put a smile on someone’s face,” he wrote.
The young officer was killed after he and two other cops responded to a domestic disturbance call from a woman who said she needed help with her son at around 6:15 p.m. Friday.
Authorities said Lashawn McNeil, 47, allegedly swung open a door in the apartment at 119 West 135th Street and opened fire on Rivera and Officer Wilbert Mora, 27, who was gravely wounded.
The third officer fired back and struck McNeil in the head and arm as the suspect tried to flee. McNeil was in critical condition at Harlem Hospital, police said.
Rivera and Mora were among four cops shot in the line of duty just this week.
“Tonight, we mourn the loss of a hero officer — a son, husband, and friend,” the NYPD said in a statement on social media.
“Only 22 years old, Police Officer Jason Rivera was murdered in the line of duty. We vow to #NeverForget Jason as his fellow Finest vow to honor his tremendous legacy of service & the ultimate sacrifice.”
NYPD officers will wear a black bands on their shields in his memory, Commissioner Keechant Sewell said at a press conference outside of Harlem Hospital, where Mora was being treated.
“A son, husband, officer and friend was killed because he did what we asked him to do,” Sewell said. “I am struggling to find the words to express the tragedy that we’re enduring. We’re mourning and we’re angry — the NYPD, New York City, all of us.”
She added: “The pain [the two officers’] families are experiencing is not something anyone can put into words.”
The last NYPD officer killed while on the job was 43-year-old Anastasios Tsakos, who died after he was hit by a drunk driver on the Long Island Expressway last April.