[guest post by Dana]
The New York Times Editorial Board takes the NYPD to task citing officers’ acts of “passive-aggressive contempt”. The editorial condemns these acts, which include the two back-turning episodes, the heckling of the mayor while he spoke at an academy graduation Monday and the “Our backs have turned to you” banner that flew over the city:
Mr. de Blasio isn’t going to say it, but somebody has to: With these acts of passive-aggressive contempt and self-pity, many New York police officers, led by their union, are squandering the department’s credibility, defacing its reputation, shredding its hard-earned respect. They have taken the most grave and solemn of civic moments — a funeral of a fallen colleague — and hijacked it for their own petty look-at-us gesture. In doing so, they also turned their backs on Mr. Ramos’s widow and her two young sons, and others in that grief-struck family.
These are disgraceful acts, which will be compounded if anyone repeats the stunt at Officer Liu’s funeral on Sunday.
The New York Police Department is going through a terrible time, and the assassinations of those officers only underscore the dreadful dangers that rank-and-file cops face every day. And, in truth, there is some thanklessness to being a cop. Officers often feel beleaguered, jerked around by supervisors and politicians, obligated to follow rules and policies that can be misguided, held responsible for their mistakes in ways that the public is not, exposed to frequent ridicule and hostility from the people they are sworn to serve. It has always been that way with cops.
But none of those grievances can justify the snarling sense of victimhood that seems to be motivating the anti-de Blasio campaign — the belief that the department is never wrong, that it never needs redirection or reform, only reverence. This is the view peddled by union officials like Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association — that cops are an ethically impeccable force with their own priorities and codes of behavior, accountable only to themselves, and whose reflexive defiance in the face of valid criticism is somehow normal.
In the meantime, fallout from both the assassination of Liu and Ramos and what is regarded as the mayor’s betrayal can now be seen as NYPD traffic tickets and summonses for minor offenses have dropped off by a staggering 94 percent:
[O]verall arrests down 66 percent for the week starting Dec. 22 compared with the same period in 2013, stats show.
Citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587, during that time frame.
Summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination also plunged 94 percent — from 4,831 to 300.
Even parking violations are way down, dropping by 92 percent, from 14,699 to 1,241.
Drug arrests by cops assigned to the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau — which are part of the overall number — dropped by 84 percent, from 382 to 63.
“I’m not writing any summonses. Do you think I’m going to stand there so someone can shoot me or hit me in the head with an ax?” One cop said Sunday, referring to the Dec. 20 slayings and another recent attack on the NYPD.
“I’m concerned about my safety,” the cop added. “I want to go to home to my wife and kids.”
An NYPD supervisor noted, “My guys are writing almost no summonses, and probably only making arrests when they have to — like when a store catches a shoplifter.”
The NYT believes that healing can be found in the words spoken by de Blasio supporter Commissioner William Bratton at the funeral of Officer Ramos:
“The police, the people who are angry at the police, the people who support us but want us to be better, even a madman who assassinated two men because all he could see was two uniforms, even though they were so much more. We don’t see each other. If we can learn to see each other, to see that our cops are people like Officer Ramos and Officer Liu, to see that our communities are filled with people just like them, too. If we can learn to see each other, then when we see each other, we’ll heal. We’ll heal as a department. We’ll heal as a city. We’ll heal as a country.”
Mayor de Blasio is scheduled to meet with police union heads today in an effort to work on closing the rift.
Update: Mayor de Blasio met with the heads of NYPD’s five unions today for two hours. According to PBA president Pat Lynch:
There were a number of discussions, especially about the safety issues members face. There was no resolve.
And our thought here today is that actions speak louder than words and time will tell.
Mayor de Blasio, who arrived late to the meeting, said in a statement:
Today’s meeting focused on building a productive dialogue and identifying ways to move forward together. The Mayor and Police Commissioner remain committed to keeping crime in New York City at historically low levels, supporting the brave men and women in uniform who protect us every day, and finding ways to bring police and the community closer together.
No specifics were given.