Tuesday, December 30, 2014




(Tuesday December 30, 2014, NYC)  Cops are accustomed to walking fine lines.  The hierarchical structure of the NYPD itself as a civil service Law Enforcement Agency with a well-defined chain of command and control provides the regimentation required to have a 34,000 member force function effectively and efficiently. The NYPD is steeped in tradition and a rich, proud history and in good times and bad the men and women of the Police Department perform their assigned tasks in accordance with the laws that govern the USA, the State of New York, and The City itself.  To many it can be seen as an insular, self-protecting fraternity and, like many large entities both public and private, in some ways it is just that.  While the public presence of the Members of Service (MOS) is highly visible throughout the Five Boroughs, some of its customs and codes are familiar only to the MOS.  There is an internal cohesiveness of the type required among men and women whose lives often can depend on their coworkers. 

In the latest maelstrom with Law Enforcement as a whole and the NYPD in particular convulsing through the country and NYC, it has been interesting to follow the coverage of events in the local media.  Lately every half-assed scribe, hack reporter, and TV talking head most with little or no actual experience or knowledge of the NYPD is suddenly an expert on policing, the NYPD, and the codes and customs, written and unwritten, of the MOS. Some of the trash that has been printed in the papers and spoken on the airwaves has been disingenuous at best, derisive, divisive, and inflammatory at worst.  Those who have written and spoken so callously with the feigned air of the “experts” have generally made matters worse.  Like it or not the media often helps shape public opinion and defines the lines of the debate.  These people given the size of the audiences they can reach are quick to point the finger at the NYPD for being “irresponsible” and “disgracefully disrespectful” towards Mayor Bill de Blasio after two Officers were assassinated in Brooklyn on the Saturday before Christmas are themselves atop the pinnacle of irresponsibility and disrespectfulness.  They fail to recognize, or chose not to see, some of the most relevant facts regarding the relationship between the MOS of the NYPD and the de Blasio administration and the Mayor himself who has done more to widen the already deep rift that has torn the relationship between City Hall and One Police Plaza apart.  One would be hard pressed to find a time in the past anywhere approaching the level of estrangement between a Mayor and the PD.

It did not have to be this way; the NYPD did not pick this fight, so to speak but as the first waves emanating out of Ferguson Missouri began to break on our shores, Mayor de Blasio did as much as any one person could to promulgate and exploit the racial divisions that the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson could do.  And, as the Mayor of the largest city in the USA, also, by the way, the “Safest Big City” in the country thanks to the efforts of the NYPD over the last 20 years, his words echoed from coast to coast.  And time and again he chose his words with little thought often speaking in terms that painted the NYPD as a reckless street gang of brutal racist thugs who young Black men need to fear.  He shamelessly made these points using his own biracial teenage son as one of the legions of Black youth that have to be taught how to interact with the police if they are ever stopped for any reason.  One might think that the Mayor of the largest, safest City in America that is also the most diverse and has the most diverse PD of any in the land would be possessed of better political acumen but obviously he lacks that skill.  His mayoral candidacy was based largely on an anti-Police platform employing so many of the “dog whistle catch phrases” he and his advisers were sure would reach their intended constituents.  And they did.  But like so many other ambitious, spineless, self-serving, politicians before him he learned quickly that being the Mayor of the City of New York is infinitely more challenging and complex than being a mere candidate in a pool of no-name lightweights.

As the first Commissioner of the NYPD and future President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt once remarked, it is far easier to be a critic instead of being in the arena, engaged in the fight.  Rather than step boldly into the arena as Mayor, Bill de Blasio remained in perpetual “campaign mode” never missing an opportunity to at least verbally pacify his unruly, clamoring, “broad coalition” of New Yorkers who vaulted him to victory.  When he reached back in time and appointed Bill Bratton as his NYPD Commissioner it was likely with a sense of nostalgia and a political nod to his experience.  Bratton had been the Commissioner in the first term of Rudy Giuliani’s administration and was a very effective, innovative leader who began the concerted efforts to reclaim Our City from the staggering crime rates and poor quality of life that had come to define huge swathes of the Boroughs.  But twenty years has changed Bratton just as we all have changed to some degree over two decades of living, learning, and experiences.  The Bratton of 2014 is nowhere near the Bratton of 1994 and that became painfully obvious almost from his first days on the job.

The highly anticipated “summit meeting” tomorrow with the Mayor and the presidents of the three major Police unions is not expected to yield any results towards repairing the rift.  It would be a start if at least, privately, de Blasio apologized for some of his most egregious anti-NYPD rhetoric but that is not likely to happen.  Some in the media claim that the recent protests against the Mayor by MOS of the NYPD are “union” activity and that the unions are “over-playing their hands”.  This could not be further from the truth.  Turning their backs towards a Mayor who has not supported them is a respectfully silent statement.  The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA), and he Detectives Endowment Association (DEA), the “Big Three” of the Police unions have not encouraged their membership to conduct themselves in any way that might be perceived as a “work slowdown” or “job action”. Such activity would come dangerously close to violating the Taylor Law, the New York City legislation enacted in 1967 that prohibits any job actions and particularly a strike of the MOS of a “vital civil service” and was aimed specifically when written, at the NYPD.  But that was another time, in another City and the NYPD has never violated the Taylor Law and absolutely no one is suggesting doing so now. Columnists such as the NY Daily News’ Pete Hamill has written many untruths about the current crisis, the NYPD and his views , which he is as entitled to as he is air to breath, are wrong and his opinions simpleminded, idiotic, and misinformed.  But he has the potential to reach a broad readership and he should be more professional in his pontificating and bloviating.  He is but one of a host of media “professionals” who have either inaccurately reported events and/or provided unsound and often unfounded commentary.  But there is not a Cop that has ever expected a “fair shake” from the press or TV media; they are constantly being accused of some grievous wrongs, brutality, racism, and various other “charges” that serve merely to illustrate how little they really know about our City, the NYPD, and life on the streets.

Tomorrow night the NYPD will be out in full force performing a monumental task that they have down to a science.  They will use their tried and true tactics, perhaps as much of an art as a science, and will in a organized manner usher in upwards of one million people into Times Square and the surrounding blocks who’ve come to see in the New Year at this most famous crossroads in America.  Crowd control is one task the NYPD does exceptionally well and has set the standards other large cities have always tried to emulate.  The uniformed Police presence will be extremely visible but there will also be hundreds of other “plain clothes Cops” from a variety of Commands, Squads and Units on site to assure the safety and security of the reveling throngs.  From the Emergency Services Unit (ESU) to the Counter Terrorism Unit, the Police will be on guard for threats of any and every kind in addition to managing a literal sea of humanity.  There will be thousands of tourists from across the country and around the world in Times Square tomorrow night and none need worry about their safety.  Some visitors may not even be aware of the current crisis we are experiencing and, like many others, they usually want to shake hands with Cops and wish them well. For a few hours every year, the last hours of every year, people are grateful and appreciative towards the Cops and that does mean something; it always has.

Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2014 © All Rights Reserved

No comments: