Monday, January 8, 2018
THE PERILS OF DECLARING PREMATURE VICTORY IN THE REDUCTION OF CRIME
SHORT MEMORIES WILL UNDERMINE OUR PROGRESS
NYPD “SHOW OF FORCE” COUNTER-TERRORISM DRILL
NYPD, MOS NUMBERS, INTEL BUREAUS, COUNTER-TERRORISM, ESU,
LOWEST CRIME RATES EVER, AMERICA’S SAFEST BIG CITY,
UNIQUE CHALLENGES FOR NYC AND NYPD, WAR ON CRIME NOT OVER,
MISGUIDED CALLS TO REFORM
(Monday January 8, 2018 1PP) Yesterday the New York Times ran an article titled, “The U.S. Has Fewer Crimes. Does That Mean It Needs Fewer Police”? It seems that there are those in various levels of governance, political commentators, prognosticators, academics, and pundits particularly on the “Left” all too ready and eager to declare resounding victory in our efforts to fight crime, decrease the size of Police Forces, and shunt funding away from Policing to various social pursuits that include greater spending for mental health care, alcohol and drug addiction, and other no doubt well intended approaches and projects to improve the lives of the “victims” of all of society’s ills. The hard-fought struggles that have resulted in lower crime rates in New York City and other locales across the country need to be sustained rather than curtailed.
A HAUNTING PARALLEL
The much celebrated “Fall of the Iron Curtain” in 1989 was touted as proof of the United States victory over the USSR that would usher in an era of “turning swords to plowshares”, the inevitable shift away from the staggering Cold War military budgets into more domestic prosperity. Indeed, the Soviet Union collapsed and with their dissolution untold billions of dollars in the federal coffers could be redirected. Yes, what was dubbed our “Peace Dividend” was seen as a potential source for Democrats to go on a spending bonanza. The sudden absence of the USSR left the USA as the lone remaining “Super Power” without any political or military rivals. Then the multi-headed serpent of radical Islamic terrorism began crawling out of the deserts and caves of Afghanistan. Many of the former Soviet States devolved into age old animosities; religious and ethnic strife infected many of these countries and new enemies came into view.
In 2003 then President George W. Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” from the flight deck of the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln asserting that our military forces had been victorious in his war of choice in Iraq. As we all know now the real battle for Iraq would be the longest, bloodiest, most costly (in lives and treasure), ill-advised and poorly planned war in our history. The danger of declaring victory, a victory of any kind but particularly against an ill-defined enemy, is fraught with hazards. Miscalculations and tired old military thinking were no match for a guerilla insurgency in battle spaces where the “enemy’ was as difficult to identify as it was tenacious in their resistance. It took the better part of the next 12 years to bring some semblance of “order” to Iraq.
NUMBERS, STATS, AND REALITY
There is a multitude of academic studies, theories, conjecture and pseudo-science employed to measure crime rates. Statistics in this realm range from partially inaccurate, incomplete and inconclusive, to using suspect methodology and drawing skewed “facts” from highly suspect numerical inputs. The FBI collects nationwide data and presents for public consumption the “official crime rate” in an annual report while the tallying of the raw numbers can vary wildly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. There is an abundance of stats from which to draw to support whatever one’s theory or opinion is. Criminologists and sociologists conjecture and theorize utilizing clean cut “data” safely ensconced in rarified air far removed from the streets. What all their metrics and measurements cannot account for is the hard and fast reality of what Police Officers do routinely on a daily basis.
Before jumping into this confusing morass, a disclaimer is in order. We can only speak to the reality of our hometown and the Police Department to which we have been not only loyal to but a staunch defender of through thick and thin for our entire lives.
The NYPD has, at the Patrol level, operated under the broad auspices of our own homegrown program known as CompStat. Since the first term of Rudy Giuliani’s as Mayor commencing in 1993 the NYPD has utilized a metrics and numbers driven approach based not solely on the social/analytical methodology of Comp-Stat, but also the locational prevalence of 911 and 311 calls with an additional emphasis on “quality of life” issues. Along with the notion of unprecedented accountability. Laud it or condemn it, there can be no denying its effectiveness. CompStat introduced a level of accountability at from the Command level down to the rank and file street Cops that had been absence prior to its implementation. The NYPD set the “gold standard” in this brand of community Policing that has been emulated, with varying degrees of success, by Law Enforcement Agencies across the country.
Despite the multitude of naysayers and critics, the most vocal of whom have vilified the utilization of “Stop, Question and Frisk”, (derisively shortened to Stop and Frisk by the detractors), the rates of crime in all categories across the board have continued to plummet. New York City today is unquestionably the safest big city in the US; has a homicide rate comparable to that of 1960 with a current population upwards of 8.5 million residents. If anything, the people of New York City will be well served by the NYPD to keep their feet on the gas pedal; there will never be a point in time that the NYPD can or will declare “Mission Accomplished”.
NEW CENTURY, NEW CHALLENGES, NEW REALITY
Twenty-one months into the new century radical Islamic terrorism delivered itself onto the City of New York on September 11, 2001. That lethal strike has set the pace for a host of Policing challenges in the United States and in its most cosmopolitan, international City. NYC will always be seen by terrorist of all stripes as a “target rich environment”. Beside the visible landmarks and buildings of importance, the City has virtually thousands of “soft targets”. Those calling for the NYPD to trim their numbers must have forgotten 9/11 and the continual threat posed to our City.
Post 911 the NYPD was able to develop many specialty Units, expand once mordant Bureaus, and provide a multi-tiered, redundantly layered blanket of protection. We have not seen a successful large-scale terrorist event since 9/11and have interdicted and prevented at least 13 attempted such attacks. (The actual number and specifics of such events remain classified). This has not been a matter of luck or Divine providence. Not by a long shot. Efforts by the highly sophisticated Intelligence Bureau, the Counter and Anti -Terrorism Units, beefed up Emergency Services Units, and a handful of other well organized, specifically tasked Units have kept our City safe. Having been abysmally ill-served by the FBI and CIA, New York City under the guidance of former Commissioner Ray Kelly, Mayor Mike Bloomburg, and other built our own “in-house” Units so we will never again be caught so fatally off guard. We do for ourselves what our vast federal intelligence and Law Enforcement apparatus was unable, (perhaps even unwilling) to do prior to September 11, 2001. These efforts require sufficient manpower to be ever vigilant, perpetually prepared, as well as aggressively forward leaning to the level required to deter any potential terrorists. Yes, the threats from “lone wolves”, individual non-state sponsored actors, as well as any other terrorist sympathizer, will always be the unknown and unknowable variables in the anti-terrorism matrix. Still, the NYPD ability to deploy “Show of Force” Units including the much-vaunted Atlas, Hercules, and Viper capabilities.
THE CONSULATES, EMBASSIES, DEMONSTRATIONS AND A PRESIDENT
What makes New York City the most high-profile City with global significance on the planet with the requisite need of fielding the premier municipal Police Department in the world are a variety of very unique missions and tasks that exist in no other city. New York City is the home of the United Nations and as such is also the home of every nation/state member’s embassy, consulate, and mission. On any given day there may be events of international consequence playing out in NYC that require a level of security that only NYPD can provide. As we are host to all those embassies and consulates naturally, we are tasked with overseeing, protecting and policing various protests, demonstrations, acts of civil disobedience, any of which can turn violent quickly.
And, as if anyone has forgotten, the President of the United States has his primary personal residence in a glittering tower that bears his name near the virtual heart of Manhattan. Much of the security required by a President today is provided by NYPD with little to no reimbursement from the federal government. This reality adds a layer of challenge, complexity and threat the NYPD, as presently configured, can readily accommodate. As one can easily see, the size of the NYPD is adequate but may even need to increase as additional challenges and new variants of criminality such as cybercrime and identity theft, on-line radicalization, recruitment and communications among various terrorist groups and others proliferate.
Despite the record low levels of criminal activity across our Five Boroughs, a handful of Precincts remain pockets off crime; particularly violent crime. Two in The Bronx and two others in Brooklyn still suffer from abnormally high levels of criminality. Some of the most hazardous loci of crime in these Precincts are in various Public Housing complexes where the drug trade, gang activity, robbery, random assault, crimes against persons and property seem immune to the best efforts of the men and women who work these Commands. While even in these neighborhoods the rates of crime are significantly reduced from what they were as recently as five years ago, they still pose challenges. Greater cooperation from residents in these neighborhoods has gone a long way towards NYPD being able to aggressively investigate crimes, establish a more robust patrol presence, and join forces with local churches and neighborhood alliances. Community involvement has been identified as one of the vital factors for fighting crime particularly within the confines of densely populated public housing projects. Still, there is a long way to go.
REINVESTING IN NYPD
Our position is this: it is far too soon for anyone to be doing a tap dance on the graves of gone by the wayside crime rates. To even begin to declare so much as a partial “victory” would not only be enormously foolhardy, it would be highly irresponsible. Yes, the rates and types of crime committed in specific jurisdictions can be notoriously puzzling to fully understand and combat, the men and women of NYPD have clearly demonstrated the efficacy of the policies and procedures that have worked so well for them over the long haul of the last 25 years. New York City today is simply a vastly City than it was 30 years ago or when coming of age in the 1970’s Bronx. The transformations be they in Times Square, gentrified neighborhoods from Harlem to Park Slope, Prospect Avenue to Prospect Park, Chelsea to Canarsie, Woodside to the Lower East Side, and all manner of interwoven ethnic enclaves, diverse neighborhoods, and the ever-evolving dynamics of an incredibly densely packed population that may top 9 million within 10 years is nothing short of amazing.
While can all feel good about living in such a vibrant and safe City, this is most certainly NOT the time to even contemplate making any major reforms to the NYPD nor entertain the dangerous idea that their numbers can be reduced without negative consequences.
Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2018 © All Rights Reserved
Copyright Brooding Cynyc 2018 © All Rights Reserved