Monday, 5 January 2015

Update: De Blasio versus the Lynch, er, group

The boys in blue had their little hissy fit again this weekend, turning their backs on Mayor de Blasio for the second time despite the instruction from their supposed boss, the police commissioner. But their little rolling coup is starting to get old, and the winds may be shifting.

For one thing, it’s not clear how long the 38,000 cops we pay for (quite handsomely, when you add it all up) can get away with not doing any work. No one has used the word ‘strike,’ as least not yet, but that’s essentially what is going on. The giveaway was Patrick Lynch’s announcement that his membership would limit itself only to ‘necessary’ arrests and ticketing rather than whatever else they’ve been doing all these years. It’s as if the city’s nurses had walked out on elective surgeries and promised only to make sure no one keeled over dead.

Given the public’s uneasiness about policing being pretty much suspended, I wouldn’t bet on Mr Lynch and his merry mob to be able to hold out on this work stoppage for very much longer.

Mike Lupica, the Daily News columnist I follow closely for a barometric reading of the vague center of city politics, continues to insist that De Blasio has to make it up to the NYPD, but his column today falls back on amorphous complaints on how he’s made them feel bad. How exactly?

No reasonable people in the city, whatever their politics, would ever suggest that de Blasio hates all cops because he hated stop-and-frisk, or because he told his son to take great care in his dealings with cops, or even because he used the word “alleged” when describing an attack on two members of the NYPD by protesters, even as we were all being assured that these protests were about as dangerous as a pillow fight.

But the idea that the divide between de Blasio and the cops somehow created itself — or that the cops created this situation — is as wrong as demonstrators going right back to the streets before Officer Rafael Ramos was laid to rest, as wrong as more police holding their own demonstration in Brooklyn on Sunday. We honor nobody’s memory that way.

So de Blasio is charged with opposing stop-and-frisk (which is a big reason he got elected with 70% of the total vote), warned his biracial son about dealings with the city’s cops and said so, and used the word “alleged” when describing a charge still in the pre-indictment phase, exactly as every newscaster in the country does for very good legal reasons. This is why he’s the bad guy? Patrick Lynch can say that de Blasio’s comments also led to two cops being gunned down by a nutjob. That makes as much sense as me saying that Patrick Lynch’s own blowhard bullshit got them murdered.

A week ago Lupica was breathing fire and siding with the cops, as were many New Yorkers appalled at the cowardly assassinations. Now, however, he’s wondering how far tens of thousands of organized, heavily armed guys can go in defying civilian authority. He should have thought of that in the first place.

Meanwhile, the cops need their members to be on best behavior because every new incident is going to be grist for the ongoing confrontation between them and the rest of the city. Lynch’s guys were not aided this week by the report of an off-duty cop identified as the man who assaulted a female subway employee and then tried to run off (but was stopped by a group of riders). Nor did today’s Johnny Knoxville imitation by another cop, who apparently decided to joyride on a cruiser hood before getting tossed into the street.

And that doesn’t include the inevitable escalation of violence against the next unarmed black or Hispanic guy. After all, according to Lupica, the problem isn’t abusive police officers who harass and assault people instead of protecting them, it’s Mayor de Blasio hurting officers’ feelings.

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