WAKEFIELD — In response to the assassination of two New York City Police Department officers on Saturday afternoon while they were seated in a cruiser in Brooklyn, Wakefield Police Chief Rick Smith said he and his entire department were “very sad and disturbed” by the officers’ deaths.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of these officers, along with the officer who was killed in the line of duty Sunday morning in Tarpon Springs, Fla.,” Chief Smith said.

He continued: “This is a time when we are very lucky to be in Wakefield. We have as much respect from the community as we respect the community but this does not minimize what took place in New York City.”

According to news reports, Patrol Officer Rafael Ramos was in the driver’s seat of the cruiser and his partner Wenjian Liu was seated beside him when they were ambushed by a gunman.

The pair were not at their usual precinct in downtown Brooklyn but were working a “critical response” detail in an area with higher crime, said police.

They were then shot to death by a gunman later identified as Ismaalyl Brinsley who approached the passenger side of the car and took a shooting stance before pulling the trigger several times. Both officers were shot in the head.

“There was no warning or provocation,” said NYPD Commissioner William Bratton at a news conference on Saturday. The shooter was later found dead apparently of a self-inflicted gun wound in a nearby subway station.

Chief Smith said that every police officer in his department has been trained to be vigilant about their surroundings while they are going about their duties. He added that he would not be surprised to see copycat killings of officers.

“Our officers come to work every day with the knowledge in the back of their minds that bad things can happen and often do happen. This knowledge raises our awareness and vigilance even more,” he said.

Wakefield’s top law enforcer pointed out that when police approach a car, knock on the door of a home or answer a phone, they never know who will be inside or at the other end of the phone line.

“Policing,” he said, “has gone from being a respected profession to one that is now subject to radicalism.” As an example, only two years ago the public was praising the efforts of the police in Watertown when one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing was caught hiding inside a boat in a resident’s yard. Police were praised in general at the time for the overall good work they did on the case.

“For many reasons, people have turned on police,” said Smith. “But every day, police officers have a right to go home in safety at the end of their shifts. But they also have to bear in mind that in spite of all the good things we do — including assisting in childbirths — being a police officer is a dangerous job.”

Chief Smith offered his thanks to the Wakefield community for their continued support.

“In spite of the sadness we all feel, I want to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a safe and happy new year.”