On the surface, statistics showing that NYPD arrests have plummeted is a cause for celebration, and likely proves crime is down in the Big Apple. However, the dramatic drop in arrests by New York City police is largely due to a prominent police union calling for a “work stoppage” or slowdown. Apparently, the retaliatory action is in response to Mayor Bill de Blasio allegedly “turning his back” on officers, which is blamed partly on the murders of two policemen.
According to an Alternet news report, the Police Benevolent Organization sent word out to officers to decrease their proactive patrols and investigations of run-of-the-mill minor offenses. As a result of the sudden diminished enforcement, drug arrests are down by 84 percent, summons for infractions and minor offenses are down a whopping 94 percent and overall arrests are down by nearly 70 percent compared to the same time last year, based on New York Post reporting. It doesn’t mean crimes are not being committed. In stark contrast, it means police are ignoring some behaviors at the moment.
The order calling for an NYPD slowdown came two days after Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were gunned down by a lone gunman, who allegedly shot his girlfriend in Maryland earlier the same day. The shooter later took his own life in a New York subway after assassinating Ramos and Liu as they sat in their patrol car.
The ensuing action of officers turning their backs on de Blasio is a staged protest against what police in New York claim is the mayor’s anti-police rhetoric. During his campaign, De Blasio pledged to put an end to the controversial “stop and frisk” police behavior in the city. Opponents of the NYPD practice say it amounted to racial profiling.
Moreover, at a press conference held after the grand jury decided not to indict the officers involved in the “choke hold” death of Eric Garner, Mayor de Blasio shared a story about how he and his wife spoke to his son in the past about how to act around police. His son is a black teen.
Since then, members of the NYPD have shunned the mayor in public events. At the wakes and funerals for the two fallen officers, police turned their backs on the mayor. They also did so upon his arrival for a press conference early after their deaths.
Mayor de Blasio met with members of the police unions Tuesday. He and Commissioner Bill Bratton appear to be on the same page regarding a move forward to provide protection and service to New Yorkers. Bratton called the action by his officers “inappropriate.” A statement was released by the mayor’s office after the meeting.
“Meeting with police unions ‘focused on building a productive dialogue and identifying ways to move forward together’; 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.”
Some critics of the officers’ actions say the behavior towards the mayor is disrespectful, and the display of censuring Bill de Blasio at the memorial amounted to politicizing the funerals. Still, others said if this were the military, the behavior by the NYPD would be considered mutiny and grounds for court-martial proceedings.
Monday’s meeting with the mayor, police union reps, and NYPD leadership staff is a step towards ending a rift brought on by public protest and their perception that minorities are being unfairly targeted and represented in the judicial system and community.
One MSNBC journalist asked a rhetorical question about the developments, which puts the entire impasse in perspective: “Who runs New York, the mayor or the police department?”
[Image via: Crooks And Liars]