Cops don’t like to think of themselves as victims, but, sadly, they too, become victims of crime. Anyone who has ever attended the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial knows with certainty that too many officers have been killed in the line of duty.
However, cops don’t always have to be working to become victims. On their “off” hours and trying to enjoy life like anyone else, they can also be confronted with unforeseen circumstances and surrounding events that produce devastating victimization. NYPD Officer Damian Bartels, 28, out of the 112th Precinct is one such victim. In late August, he was driving back to Queens with his girlfriend and cousin in the car after a night in Manhattan. Soon after he crossed the Queensboro Bridge, his vehicle was cut off by another car. Bartels, reportedly unarmed, exited his vehicle to confront the three culprits. They savagely attacked him and beat him with a tire iron.
Bartels was critically injured and had to have his face rebuilt with surgery that lasted 12 hours. His nose, jaw, and two eye sockets had to be reconstructed at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell. New York Police Commissioner, Raymond Kelly, visited him on more than one occasion.
Despite the fact that Bartels has youth on his side to recover, the potential exists for lasting physical effects not to say the least of which are, undoubtedly, coupled with enduring results of emotional trauma. The fact that he is a cop does not eradicate the impact of the effects of the criminal victimization that has impacted his life and that will likely be replayed continuously in his mind. What has happened to him is horrific in nature, terrible in consequence, and outrageous in reaction.
Officer Bartels’ life, like other victims of crime, is forever changed by this horrible incident. Though he is fortunate to be alive, the senseless brutality of this attack does not diminish the effect on fellow officers, criminal justice colleagues, the community, and strangers he has never met.
It is vital that Officer Bartels receive tremendous emotional support and the extension of friendship by all in the criminal justice system to continue to fight a long and hard battle of physical and emotional recovery from this chilling incident. The lingering effects and traumatic impact of this incident will likely cause him to remain forever changed in many ways. Good wishes, kind deeds, and thoughtful gestures should remain in abundance to help him overcome the many hurdles that he faces now and in the future.