Through words and actions, York City police commissioner showing true leadership

  • Malaki Beady, 17, was shot and killed Wednesday morning in Penn Park.
  • Another 17 year old,  Javion Roman, has been arrested in connection with that murder.
  • Michael Muldrow, the York City police commissioner, made an impassioned sermon at a vigil for Beady.
  • Muldrow called for better parenting with less cynicism.
Theodeus Beady, right, of York City, and York City Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow embrace during a vigil held in memory of Beady's son, Malaki Beady, 17, at Cornerstone Baptist Church in York City, Saturday, March 26, 2022. Malaki Beady was shot and killed at Penn Park on Wednesday. Commissioner Muldrow spoke of how the community worked relentlessly together for the past three days to bring justice for the family. A York City teen, Javion Roman, 17, surrendered to police Friday night and was charged with criminal homicide in the death of Malaki Beady. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Words have power.

That was never more evident than Saturday when Michael Muldrow stood in the pulpit of Cornerstone Baptist Church and delivered an impassioned sermon of nearly 20 minutes to those gathered for a morning vigil for Malaki Beady.

The 17-year-old was shot and killed Wednesday morning in Penn Park, a short distance from William Penn Senior High School.

That senseless act of gun violence clearly had an impact on the York City police commissioner. His words were dripping with emotion, especially in light of the fact that the shooter arrested for the Beady murder is another teen — 17-year-old  Javion Roman.

More:'We taught them to be hard': Top cop addresses youth violence

“We showed them anger, and we wonder why they’re angry. We taught them to be hard, to be cold, to be impatient and to be unforgiving, and we wonder why they’re full of hate and have no empathy,” Muldrow said. “Our kids didn’t change; our expectations of them did.”

Showing leadership: The commissioner’s speech showed true leadership. Now we must do our best to heed his words.

After the speech, and with tears still reddening his eyes, Muldrow said his detectives worked three days straight — pointing out that some didn’t go home or sleep, that they went in shifts to pick up changes of clothes — to investigate the case.

It is good to know that hard work resulted in an arrest, despite investigative challenges such as the size of the park as a crime scene, the early dismissal of York City schools during the shooting response, the weather and kids refusing to talk. That arrest clearly pleased Muldrow.

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“I needed this. I think our department needed this, but our community needed this,” Muldrow said. “Everything was working against us, but to be able to bring that to a conclusion and get a disposition for that family, for that dad, in three days, that’s enough for me.”

Hard work lies ahead: Despite the arrest, however, Muldrow knows the hard work lies ahead in his effort to curb city gun violence. Recently, he took a leadership effort in that regard by temporarily giving up his gun while on duty and challenging the young men of York to do the same.

During his Saturday sermon, Muldrow preached a theme of “extreme ownership” of our faults and failures in order to improve conditions.

Muldrow called for better parenting with less cynicism and to stop exposing children to adult language and adult situations. He said behaviors of the past are manifesting as the actions of the present.

Plan of action: Muldrow, however, isn’t just talk. He also has a plan of action. During his sermon, he promoted current programs the department has implemented, things he said people wanted, such as police reforms, better visibility and more counselors and outreach workers to connect with people.

He also advocated for the new technology he’s sought, including a city video surveillance system, a drone and the ShotSpotter program, which tracks and responds to the sound of gunfire.

More:What would York City Police do with a drone? The City Council wants to know

Critics questioned the cost to privacy that the new tech could mean, but Muldrow responded by saying that people willingly give up privacy to phones, GPS devices and social media companies.

“But we won’t give it up to keep our kids alive,” he said.

Join him in the fight: Agree or disagree with his plans, it’s obvious that Muldrow cares about York and its youth.

He’s not sitting idly by. He’s demanding change and he’s demanding it now.

We all should join him in that struggle.