An excellent op-ed in the NY Times, but the people who need to read it either won’t or will just dismiss it:
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.
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.
But there is a way out of this cul-de-sac. It was stated at Officer Ramos’s funeral by an exemplary public servant — and stout de Blasio ally — Commissioner William Bratton.
The reasons they won’t change, at least in the short term, are multiple. First and foremost, what is motivating a lot of this is anger at de Blasio’s very election, which was in large part based on the abuses of the NYPD. His very existence is, to these guys, as slap in the face. Second, this is about money and power. Contract negotiations are underway, and PBA’s Patrick Lynch is up for re-election. Third, this is an ingrained “us vs. them” mentality on several levels. Police vs. civilians and white vs. non-white:
On Thee Rant, a popular chat site known to be an online watercooler for active duty and retired NYPD officers, commenters fret about possible ambushes by black gang members, obsess over radical leftists, organize boycotts of chain stores and a Chipotle outlet they deem “anti-cop,” and hatch plots to target protest leaders. While the forum attracts a disproportionate number of cops with a proclivity for outrageous hyperventilation, it also offers a rare look at the unvarnished views of the retired police activists and old guard officers mobilizing against the mayor.
As veteran NYPD observer Len Levitt wrote of the forum, officers “are often so constricted by the department that Thee Rant is often their only outlet. That’s good, until it isn’t.”
In comment threads, de Blasio is routinely referred to as “Kaiser Wilhelm,” a derisive reference to his birth name, Warren Wilhelm Jr. Police resentment of de Blasio has simmered since his campaign for mayor, when he ran against Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk policies. The anti-de Blasio sentiment grew during the early months of his term, as he wrangled with the Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) over police salaries and dropped a Bloomberg appeal of a federal lawsuit that found NYPD officers unfairly targeted people of color with stop-and-frisk tactics.
But nothing fueled NYPD outrage like de Blasio’s relationship with Al Sharpton. When the mayor hired a former Sharpton aide, Rachel Noerdlinger, as the chief of staff to his wife, Chirlane McCray, then defended Noerdlinger against atorrent of bad press for her relationship with an ex-convict and her son’s Facebook postings referring to cops as “pigs,” NYPD anger exploded.
On a Thee Rant forum, commenters homed in on Noerdlinger’s race (she is black) and her gender. While one commenter described her as “a weed soaked cum dumpster low life POS,” another officer wrote of her and her partner: “The bit-ch will be bugging mofo’s ass, if she hasn’t done so already, about making nigge-r noise in court and he will begin clobbering her, and then junior will jump in and snap his neck!”
“They’re born N I _ _ E R S , live like N I _ _ E R S and usually die like N I _ _ E R S,” a police commenter added. His language was typical of commentary appearing on the forum whenever Noerdlinger’s name was mentioned.
When de Blasio remarked this month that he had instructed his son, Dante, to use extra caution when engaging with cops, Thee Rant commenters lit up the chat boards. In a typically lurid thread, a Thee Rant commenter made light of the struggle de Blasio’s daughter, Chiara, has waged with substance abuse. “Somebody should slip her a ‘hot bag,’” a fellow officer who called himself Thisroundsoneme replied, suggesting a cop plant drugs on her to frame her for possession.
Finally, what has made this the new normal is the fact that cynical operators on the right have hijacked this as their new cause du jour in the never-ending war on the left. You’ve got high profile wingnuts out there making this a Democrat v. Republican issue, so it is most likely here to stay. Add to it the long history of the NYPD refusing to allow themselves to be actually be policed, to borrow the term, by elected civilian officials whose job it is to control them. It’s astounding to me that police think they can do to Americans what would get a soldier court-martialed if they did it overseas, but that is where we are nowadays.
You can see how this is a mess that is going to be here for a while. And, as always, the price paid for this bullshit will be the blood of innocents.