Policing the Police

There is quite a mess brewing in New York City between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD. First there was the death of Eric Garner after a confrontation with the police over selling untaxed cigarettes. This was a more ambiguous situation than the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in that Mr. Garner had not physically attacked the police officers attempting to arrest him. He was resisting arrest, however, and the grand jury declined to issue indictments against any of the officers involved, probably reasoning that they had not intended to harm Mr. Garner and were only restraining him. Naturally, there were protests in New York, over this and Mayor de Blasio, who had run on a platform of restraining certain police procedures considered objectionable, seemed to side with the protesters, even after they were heard chanting that they wanted dead cops, and two cops were indeed killed. Many officers of the NYPD, especially the president of their union, Patrick Lynch, have come to believe that Mayor de Blasio is against them and they have been pointedly showing disrespect for the mayor and refusing to write tickets. As I said, a mess.

It is foolish and dangerous to take a blindly anti-cop position. The police have a difficult and often dangerous job that is necessary to maintain law and order. Those protesters may have cause to regret their wish for dead cops if they find themselves in the sort of anarchy that might result if the police decide not to do their jobs anymore. A police officer sometimes has to take action quickly on the basis of limited and conflicting information. For this reason, it is wise to be careful about second guessing an officer’s actions in a given situation. It is easy enough to state that he should have done this or that in the comfort of your own home. The officer may not have had the leisure to carefully examine the situation and ponder the best course to take. He must decide quickly if a situation warrants the use of force and he may well pay for a mistake with his life. It is for this reason that grand juries give the police a lot of slack.

At the same time, it is also foolish and dangerous to take a blindly pro-cop position. The police are not angels but human beings and subject to all the follies and iniquities as any other group of human beings. Great power is given to the police in order for them to do their jobs. If a violent suspect resists arrest, a police officer can use deadly force to prevent him from harming the officer or any civilians in the area. Being human, any police officer will be tempted to abuse his power and authority. We must be careful not to let that happen. The police must not be above the law. They must not have a license to kill or to steal. The police must not be worse than the criminals. An officer who abuses his power must be held accountable.

This is why I cannot altogether approve of the actions of the officers of the NYPD. It is gratifying to watch the progressive de Blasio founder as he discovers that his socialist ideology doesn’t work all that well when trying to run a great city, but there are larger issues here. Some have suggested that de Blasio should resign because he has lost the confidence of the NYPD. De Blasio was elected mayor in a fair and free election, as far as I know. This decision by the people of New York City may have been an unfortunate one, but it was their decision to make. The police department does not exercise a veto over the people’s choice, nor can they effectively go on strike by refusing to enforce the law. I can understand their frustration but the public’s safety must be the first priority, even if members of the public are not particularly grateful for the service rendered. I am afraid that the shows of disrespect for the mayor will only make it more difficult for the police and the mayor to resolve their differences and work together to run New York City. For his part, Mayor de Blasio needs to make some effort to show that he understands the difficulties that the average patrolman faces on the job. He has to somehow assure the NYPD that he can be trusted to stand up for them when things get tough. At the very least, he ought not to publicly associate with rabble rousers and criminals like Al Sharpton ( I will not call that scoundrel Reverend)  and he really shouldn’t make public statements implying that his biracial son is in danger from the police because of his race.

Calming a turbulent city is a task that will require tactful and patient leadership on every side. Too bad New York City doesn’t have that just now.



And it’s about time too. Here is the story in the New York Post.

The NYPD arrested 200 protesters as they moved in on Zuccotti Park early this morning and cleared out the thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters who had taken over the space for nearly two months.

Mayor Bloomberg, who called the decision to boot the protesters “mine and mine alone,” said protesters would be allowed back into the Lower Manhattan park but not with their tents and sleeping bags.

I don’t have any problem with protests. I supported the Tea Party protests. But, there is a problem when people start camping out in parks for weeks on end and annoy the people who live in the area. There is a real problem when the camps become havens for criminal activity and a public health hazard.

I don’t think that Mayor Bloomberg comes off at all well in his dealings with these people. The first duty of any public official is to maintain order and the rule of law. By failing to properly handle the protesters when they started to become unruly, he and too many other sympathetic mayors effectively abdicated their duty, and, they allowed the problem to become that much harder to deal with.

By the way, I think the OWS protesters should be forced to clean up their mess. At the very least, they should pay the costs.

Citizen’s Arrest!!

I always liked this scene from the Andy Griffith Show.


The reason I bring this up is because of this story I saw in the New York Post. It would seem that in New York there are indeed two sets of laws, as Gomer Pyle says, one for the citizens and one for the police and their friends and families.

Hundreds of NYPD cops rallied in front of the Bronx County Courthouse yesterday to support 16 colleagues who were indicted in a long-simmering ticket-fixing scandal.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association was out in force, passing out various signs to the off-duty protesters.

One sign asserted the supposed mild nature of fixing tickets: “It’s a courtesy, not a crime.” Another called it “NYPD Culture.”

Well, PBA culture, anyway.

When the trials get under way, it will be interesting to pull back the covers of these “courtesies” — and the underlying culture.

Apart from the blatant criminal charges against Jose Ramos, the police officer whose ties to a drug dealer first sparked the investigation in 2009, the “courtesy” in ticket-fixing seems pretty much an insiders’ game.

Call it cops’ “Friends-and-Family” plan — with union officials cutting breaks for the rank-and-file’s relatives and pals.

But over the course of the investigation, wiretaps revealed widespread fixing that extended beyond parking-violation favors to potential cover-ups of DWI and domestic-disturbance incidents.

In short, it’s serious stuff — and it sure doesn’t seem like a “courtesy” that’s ever been extended to the general public.

Another sign at the courthouse read, “Collective prosecution is unfair.”

Yeah, and so is “selective enforcement.”

Fact is, the best way to cultivate contempt for the law is to create the impression that the rules apply only to some.

It’s ultimately for a court to determine whether crimes were committed.

But if it comes out during the process that PBA officers plotted to help out friends, family and those in a position to help the organization, then the union itself needs to be prosecuted as a criminal conspiracy.

“A courtesy, not a crime”?

These police officers who are rallying in support of this practice fail to understand that if people begin to feel that there are two sets of laws, or that the police are to be considered above the law, that will, in the long run, make their jobs a whole lot more difficult.

Where is Sheriff Taylor, when we need him?

And thanks once again to Instapundit.