In an article written by the New York Times’ Editorial Board, the paper blasted the NYPD for being disrespectful of Mayor Bill de Blasio and for embarrassing themselves through childish acts that trash the department’s reputation.
In an opinion piece published on Monday, The New York Times roundly criticized the childish actions of NYPD officers who shamefully turned their backs on the mayor during the funeral of one of their fallen colleagues, Rafael Ramos. The disrespect continued only days later when de Blasio was booed and heckled as he spoke at a police graduation ceremony. The Times declared that these acts only make things worse and cause people to lose even more respect for the boys in blue.
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 Times then notes that police officers have a stressful job and that they continually have to put up with bureaucracy and criticism as they put their lives at risk to serve a public that is increasingly hostile towards them. None of that, however, justifies the way many NYPD officers are acting.
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.
The New York Times continued by calling for the NYPD to act like the professionals they claim to be and re-build the respect they have lost before the city becomes a more dangerous place.
It’s not normal. Not for a professional class of highly trained civil servants, which New York’s Finest profess to be. The police can rightly expect, even insist upon, the respect of the public. But respect is a finite resource. It cannot be wasted. Sometimes it has to be renewed.
The failures of some cops, the misguided policing tactics that feed a sense of oppression in parts of the city, the offensive provocations of some in the police-reform protest movement, and the horrific killings of two officers, have led the city to a dangerous point.
In conclusion, the Times pointed out that Mayor de Blasio “has been doing and saying the right things” in an effort to unite everyone, including “meeting Tuesday with leaders of the five police unions to lower the temperature and to move the city forward.”
Surely many officers understand and accept his conciliatory words and realize that the things Mr. de Blasio has done — like hiring Mr. Bratton, increasing financing for the department and modernizing its equipment — are motivated by an honest desire to do right by the Police Department.
The grieving rank-and-file need to recognize this and also see the damage that many of their colleagues, and their union representatives, are doing to trash their department’s reputation.
All in all, the Editorial Board did a fantastic job. But there is one point they make that most will reject.
The New York Times claimed that police officers are “held responsible for their mistakes in ways that the public is not,” which is complete bullshit. In fact, the very reason why people are protesting against the police in the streets and tensions are so high is precisely because police officers are NOT held responsible for their mistakes in the same way average citizens are.
Shooting and killing an unarmed teenager, combined with all the witness accounts, should have resulted in an indictment by the Ferguson Grand Jury. But because the killer was a cop, the prosecuting attorney didn’t do his job the way he would have if the killer had been just an average Joe. The same can be said of the Eric Garner case, which sparked the protests against the NYPD.
The Staten Island Grand Jury declined to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who placed the unarmed Garner in an illegal choke hold. Unable to breathe, Garner died because of Pantaleo’s reckless actions and the whole thing was caught on camera. The only person who the Grand Jury did indict was the person who filmed the encounter. Pantaleo killed a man and didn’t even receive a slap on the wrist.
So while The New York Times should be applauded for standing up to the NYPD and calling them out for their childishness, they deserve criticism for claiming that police are actually “held responsible for their mistakes in ways that the public is not.” Because unless they have been hiding under a rock, it’s pretty damn clear to the public that police are not treated like the rest of us. Whereas a normal citizen would have been indicted for murder and likely sent to prison, the officer who killed Eric Garner, and many other officers across the country, have been allowed to walk free as they have hidden behind their badges to escape punishment for their crimes. No average citizen gets that kind of treatment, and neither should police officers.
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