I became worried that New York City Police officers had ended their protest when they saluted Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner William Bratton at the wake for officer Wenjian Liu. Despite Bratton’s call for officers to recognize that respecting the grieving families should hold precedence over the officers’ and the police union’s “grievances,” many officers outside the funeral parlor, once again, turned their backs as Mayor de Blasio began the eulogy. Unfortunately, these officers have not recognized the arrogance that protesting the Mayor, as Bratton contends, distracts from the valor and dignity of the slain officers. To my knowledge, de Blasio has not backed down from his acknowledgement of police brutality in the city nor has he denounced the instructions he has given his own (black) son about how to handle himself during interactions with the NYPD. Other than acknowledging that easing tensions between the officers and the city are welcome, he has not backed away from his claims on political grounds. I respect him for that.
While the unconfirmed NYPD slowdown ostensibly reflects no official sanction, the statistics suggests that the officers have adjusted their attitudes and tactics concerning law enforcement. The week after their fellow officers were gunned down by a black man, The New York Times reports that, “the number of summonses for minor criminal offenses, as well as those for parking and traffic violations, decreased by more than 90 percent versus the same week earlier. And arrests over seven major categories of felony offenses were nearly 40 percent lower […]” Do these officers actually think the mayor will apologize when their show of discretion towards crime and punishment accords with the goals of their critics? Had officers staged such a protest before officer Daniel Pantaleo met Eric Garner maybe Garner would be alive today as selling loose cigarettes most certainly is not a serious, criminal offense. The NYPD’s slow down protest appears to offer a model of effective police work. I hope they keep up the good work.
What seems odd, however, is that the officers who turned their backs haven’t been written up for insubordination. The first time they protested at Detective Ramos’s funeral, they should have received a penalty. When they repeated their actions on Sunday, the officers who committed the offense should have been suspended. By not doing anything to hold these officers accountable, the leniency shown them extends the legacy of the crimes and abuses of mostly white Americans who lynched black Americans and escaped punishment with the official ruling being that their heinous acts were committed “at the hands of persons unknown;” now this is a legacy one would think you’d want to turn your back on and embrace another model for holding people accountable…oh well, at least for now, a black kid who NYPD officers catch jaywalking just might survive this criminal act; good luck kid.