Friday, May 22, 2015

When Mayors And Police Collide

Back in December, following an incident in which the New York City grand jury failed to indict several police officers for the murder of Eric Garner (because there was no evidence to support a charge), New York City Mayor, Bill De Blasio, threw his entire police department under the bus, making it sound as if the entire department was made up of hate filled racists who targeted black citizens.

De Blasio told the American public that the Eric Garner case was “profoundly personal for me,” saying that because of “the dangers Dante (his biracial son) may face, we’ve had to literally train him . . . in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him.”

Interesting considering the mayor's son has NYC police officers to take him to and from school and drive him where he wants or needs to go. Did De Blasio teach his son to be afraid of those officers too - just in case?

The mayor went on to tell all New Yorkers, in so many words, that the police are racists and that black citizens should not only be afraid of them but should teach their children to be afraid of them as well. He lumped all officers into one large category and was unapologetic. Many officers were so angry they turned their backs on him wherever he went in the city.

Violent crime in New York began going up and city revenues began going down as police stopped giving 110% to the job. They did what they were required to do rather than putting their all into it. As of May 5th of this year, murders and shootings in New York City have increased by 20% each. (Note that another reason for this is the mayor's banning the "Stop and Frisk" program that was taking guns off the street.)

Police stopped writing parking tickets - the major source of revenue for the city. City revenues dropped by 90%. Oops.

As a mayor, it's probably not smart to throw your police force under the bus. But that didn't stop Baltimore Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, from doing it following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.

Apparently not paying attention to New York City's problems, shortly after Gray's death Mayor Rawlings-Blake threw her own police department under the bus, also making them sound like a bunch of racists. Six of her officers, three white and three black, were arrested on charges ranging from second degree murder to criminal negligence and false imprisonment. Ms. Rawlings-Blake then invited the Justice department "to investigate if our police department has engaged in a pattern or practice of stops, searches or arrests that violate the Fourth Amendment.”

Of the 2745 active duty officers on the force, 1445 (or 52%) are African-American, Asian, Hispanic or Native American. Four of the six top commanders of the force are either African-American or Hispanic. And the mayor wants the department investigated by the racially biased Justice Department for discriminating against minorities.

The mayor has apparently decided the outcome of the investigation and of the charges filed against the six officers. She spoke to Al Sharpton's National Action Network (certain an unbiased organization if there ever was one...) and said “We will get justice for Freddie Gray. If, with the nation watching, three black women at three different levels can’t get justice and healing for this community, you tell me where we’re going to get it in our country.”

Funny - I thought justice was supposed to be for everyone and that people accused of something were innocent until proven guilty in court. But what do I know?

Since Mayor Rawlings-Blake threw her police department under the bus the officers themselves say quietly that they are afraid to do their jobs.

“Officers are coming up to me and saying, ‘I’m afraid to do my job,’” Lt. Kenneth Butler, a president of a group for black officers, said recently. "Moral is low," he said, and "all officers, regardless of race, are upset."

And why wouldn't it be? Officers citywide are now afraid if they arrest someone and the charges don't stick they could be jailed for making a false arrest and/or false imprisonment. After all - when Freddie Gray was arrested for possession of a knife, which we now know was in his possession illegally, the prosecutor mistakenly declared the knife to be legal and charged the arresting officers with false arrest and false imprisonment. (She has since dropped those and added reckless endangerment to the list of charges.)

Now that the police are understandably afraid of making a mistake that could cost them their freedom they are not out there giving it 110%. As a result, violent crime has increased exponentially in Baltimore. Murders have increased by 40% and non-fatal shootings by 60%. 

It seems it doesn't pay for the mayors of large cities to disavow and demean their police departments. It's counterproductive to good policing. And the mayors will probably blame the police instead of themselves.

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