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The NYPD Watershed Moment?
July 29, 2019
So what to make of New Yorkers dumping buckets of water on NYPD cops in four seemingly unrelated incidents? Was this a series of playful summer amusements during a heat-scorched week or the beginnings of something sinister?
And what of the cops’ actions, or rather, non-actions? None called for backup. They simply walked away. Were they afraid to make an arrest, knowing their every move would be videotaped on cell phones? Did they fear a confrontation a la Daniel Pantaleo/Eric Garner? Or were they exercising the “restraint” and “de-escalation” the Police Academy now teaches as part of Mayor de Blasio’s neighborhood-friendly policing strategies?
Whatever their intentions, the officers’ passivity has led to criticisms of cowardice and, perhaps worse, subjected the NYPD to ridicule. It has also exposed a potential rift between the department top uniformed cop, Chief of Department Terence Monahan, and its Commissioner Jim O’Neill, a rift that could widen as O’Neill decides, probably in the next week or two, whether to fire Pantaleo.
Early last week, Monahan said of the cops’ non-actions, “Any cop who thinks that it’s all right, that they can walk away from something like that, maybe they should reconsider whether or not this is the profession for them.”
Yet it was Monahan’s words, rather than O’Neill’s, that resonated among former top NYPD officials contacted by NYPD Confidential. “What’s next?” asked a former deputy commissioner. “A bottle, a baseball bat? An emphasis on de-escalation is fine, but when it doesn’t work, I only hope they [cops] know how to protect themselves.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire life,” said a second former deputy commissioner. “The presumption of being on the right side — that is, the correct, side — has moved away from law enforcement. The city has moved so far to the left, the feeling is they [cops] can be humiliated and ridiculed because the establishment is not going to do shit. There is an internal breakdown. It will take a long time to get it back. Cops will be asking, what is their role? Do they get back into their squad cars and come around only when there is a 911 call?”
The fiery former Chief of Department Louis Anemone, who was instrumental in developing the department’s COMPSTAT strategy of the 90s, which is credited with driving down crime to today’s record lows, posted: “These people have now become emboldened to take perhaps more serious action against a police officer, thinking that there will be no consequences for them.”
Of the cops who took no action, he added: “I am ashamed that members of my beloved NYPD — when confronted with behavior that could just have easily been life-threatening — did nothing. They turned their backs on a threat, walked away defeated.…”
Copyright © 2019 Leonard Levitt