THE NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL ON TENSIONS BETWEEN MAYOR DE BLASIO AND THE POLICE

Following are excerpts from (actually, most of) today\’s New York Times editorial, titled “Police Respect Squandered in Attacks on de Blasio” – in blue, with my comments in rust.

You decide who is making more sense.

MayorBill de Blasio has spent weeks expressing his respect and admirationfor the New York Police Department, while calling for unity in thesedifficult days, but the message doesn\’t seem to be sinking in. Maybe that is because for the monthsbefore this sudden respect/admiration, such as it is (you areexaggerating how much he expressed), de blasio had made it clear hissympathies were with the “protesters” more than the police. 

Whenhespoke at a police graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden onMonday, some in the crowd booed and heckled him. This followed themass back-turning by scores of officers when the mayor spokeon Saturday at the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos; the virtualback-turning the day before by an airplane-towed banner (“Our backshave turned to you”), and the original spiteful gesture by officerson the night Mr. de Blasio visited the hospital where Officer Ramosand his partner, Wenjian Liu, lay dead. Ilove the way you are trying to have your cake and eat it here. Youroriginal article said “scores” of police turned their backs atthe graduation ceremony.  That was when you wanted to pretend thenumber was minimal. But now that you want to show how disrespectfulpolice are, you toss in that “mass back-turning” line, eventhough it contradicts the “scores” claim.  O what a tangledweb we weave…”

Mr.de Blasio isn\’t going to say it, but somebody has to: With theseacts of passive-aggressive contempt and self-pity, many New Yorkpolice officers, led by their union, are squandering the department\’scredibility, defacing its reputation, shredding its hard-earnedrespect. They have taken the most grave and solemn of civic moments -a funeral of a fallen colleague – and hijacked it for their ownpetty look-at-us gesture. In doing so, they also turned their backson Mr. Ramos\’s widow and her two young sons, and others in thatgrief-struck family. Well,there you go. The debate is over. The New York Times has told usthat the police have blown their credibility, reputation and respectby making their feelings about Mayor de blasio known. Funny thing,though: AQuinnipiac University poll, released this month, shows that 56%of the citizens of New York disapprove of how de blasio is handlingrelations with the police, with just 36% approving.  And, as bad as those results are, interviewing was completed BEFORE officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were murdered. So tell us againwhose credibility, reputation and respect has been shredded.  And tell us why you pretended this poll, which the Times staff must have seen, did not exist….

TheNew York Police Department is going through a terrible time, and theassassinations of those officers only underscore the dreadful dangersthat rank-and-file cops face every day. And, in truth, there is somethanklessness to being a cop. Officers often feel beleaguered, jerkedaround by supervisors and politicians, obligated to follow rules andpolicies that can be misguided, held responsible for their mistakesin ways that the public is not, exposed to frequent ridicule andhostility from the people they are sworn to serve. It has always beenthat way with cops. There we have theobligatory \’yeah, there is another side to this\’ paragraph, buried in the middle of the editorial. Now,back to the regularly-scheduled cop bashing.

Butnone of those grievances can justify the snarling sense of victimhoodthat seems to be motivating the anti-de Blasio campaign – thebelief that the department is never wrong, that it never needsredirection or reform, only reverence. This is the view peddled byunion officials like Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen\’sBenevolent Association – that cops are an ethically impeccableforce with their own priorities and codes of behavior, accountableonly to themselves, and whose reflexive defiance in the face of validcriticism is somehow normal. Did Patrick Lynchsay all police officers are perfect? Did anyone? To read thisnonsense you\’d think so. But that, of course, is a dead-on lie.

It\’snot normal. Not for a professional class of highly trained civilservants, which New York\’s Finest profess to be. The police canrightly expect, even insist upon, the respect of the public. Butrespect is a finite resource. It cannot be wasted. Sometimes it hasto be renewed. This would be a very fairstatement…were it not for the first three words. Of course it isnormal for cops to react negatively to the treatment they have beenafforded under de blasio.  Case in point: he seeks out, bows down to and reveres the cop-hating, racist,firebomber al sharpton as some kind of long-lost brother. What doyou think that communicates to everyone, police supporters and detractors alike?

Thefailures of some cops, the misguided policing tactics that feed asense of oppression in parts of the city, the offensive provocationsof some in the police-reform protest movement, and the horrifickillings of two officers, have led the city to a dangerous point. Notice how the anti-cop part is moved to thefront of the list? What a surprise. And notice how the “protesters”are characterized as “police-reform” in nature, with no referenceto the countless signs and chants making blanket condemnations of the entire force and the shouteddemands for dead cops… which were condemned by which protesters?  Any at all?  Can you show me the rejections of these sentiments?  The most amazing part is that the Times puts out crap like this, and then wonders why fewer and fewerpeople take its editorials seriously.

Themayor will be meeting Tuesday with leaders of the five police unionsto lower the temperature and to move the city forward. He has beendoing and saying the right things, but he also seems to be takinggreat pains not to say anything to set off the cops. Surely manyofficers understand and accept his conciliatory words and realizethat 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 PoliceDepartment. More BS. Bratton was hired a year ago. Everything that has driven police sentiment to this point occurredwhile he was commissioner. Not even a nice try, guys.

Thegrieving rank-and-file need to recognize this and also see the damagethat many of their colleagues, and their union representatives, aredoing to trash their department\’s reputation. Uh…maybeyou better read that poll again.

There it is. Your call.

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