Cellphone videos of New York City police officers being doused with water while trying to do their jobs became an internet sensation this week, and an unsettling (but inevitable) controversy for New York City. The officers were trying to disperse rowdy groups at fire hydrants during a three-day heat wave, and allowed themselves to be assaulted and humiliated while crowds cheered the attackers on.
The police arrested three men who were caught on video hurling water at police in two incidents. This also caused controversy. “Why is a man facing more severe punishment for dousing a police officer than Officer Daniel Pantaleo is for choking Eric Garner?” asked a Times article. That shouldn’t be a difficult question, but you know—the Times. Eric Garner was a petty criminal resisting arrest. The officers were doing their jobs, and Garner died as the result of an accident, in great part because of his own actions in defying the police. The police were also trying to do their jobs when they were doused with water, in an act that threatens the peace and order of the community.
The Police Department’s highest-ranking uniformed officer, Terence Monahan, the police chief, lit the fuse on a larger controversy, saying,
“Any cop who thinks that’s all right, that they can walk away from something like that, maybe should reconsider whether or not this is the profession for them.We don’t take that.”
But they did take that, and the Mayor of New York wants them to take that, because the whole idea of law enforcement is now, and has often been, anathema to progressive ideology.
Thus the police in New York get confusing memos like the recent one reminding officers that while they have to accept verbal abuse, physical assaults on police acts like dousing or spraying water could justify arrests and many possible charges like obstructing governmental administration, criminal tampering, harassment and disorderly conduct.
Interesting. And if, say, a 350 pound water-hurler (like the late Eric Garner) simply defies the police and makes it clear that he’s going to keep doing what he’s doing (like Eric Garner) and resists arrest (like Eric Garner), then what? A gun is excessive force. The police can’t move the man, and we now know that trying to subdue him isn’t acceptable either.
Before the arrests, the police commissioner, James P. O’Neill (think Tom Selleck in “Blue Bloods”) said the city and the Police Department would “never tolerate such disrespect.” Nonsense. New York’s progressive government wants them to tolerate disrespect, which means disrespect is what they will get.
Donovan J. Richards, the chairman of the City Council committee that oversees the Police Department, called Chief Monahan’s remarks “troubling” because they criticized the officers for doing what the department is supposed to preach: “exercising restraint.” He called dousing of police“reprehensible,” but said the officers deserved to be commended for avoiding a “needless confrontation” that could have “spiraled out of control.”
Incredible. Machiavelli knew what he was talking about when he said that respect arose from either love or fear. Police are never going to be loved, and groups like Black Lives Matter, anti-police propagandists like Ta Nehisi Coates, open borders activists who condemn ICE, and New York’s Mayor de Blasio ensure that efforts to seek love by ignoring lawbreakers will eventually end with a breakdown of safety and order. In other words, people, including officers, are going to end up dead who wouldn’t have and shouldn’t have, despite the good intentions.
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who reversed a crime wave in the early 1990s by introducing policies based on the “broken window” theory that included aggressive enforcement for minor offenses, has responded to the dousing episodes by saying de Blasio’s decision to reverse Giuliani’s policy has triggered the disrespect shown to the police. De Blasio countered that crime rates were low “because we’re bridging the divide between police and communities.”
That, of course, is nonsense. If that gap has been bridged, why are citizens abusing police?
Crime in the U.S. generally has been falling precipitously since 1993 (or right before Rudy became mayor). Since most of the period did not feature special efforts to “bridge the divide,” de Blasio’s statement is disingenuous. Most agree that the decline in crime is primarily demographic, with the aging population producing fewer of the group responsible for the majority of crimes, young males. Neither Rudy’s policies nor de Blasio’s can take credit for that.
This isn’t hard, or shouldn’t be. If the minority of the public that has contempt for law and law enforcement knows that it can express that contempt without consequences, the contempt and defiance will increase, and law enforcement will become more difficult and more dangerous. Citizens should be acculturated to respect and obey police authority, and there should be serious consequences for not doing so.
This is basic, and is not confined to law enforcement. Parents who allow their children to verbally abuse them, defy their directives and rules, and project disrespect end up with chaotic homes and undisciplined, socially destructive kids. Leaders and managers in any field who do not demand respect from subordinates will not be successful, and neither will their organizations.
Yes, good, well-trained, competent law enforcement officers will be able to do their jobs with as little force as possible, but they still have to be allowed to use sufficient force to enforce the law, and the public still must know that their duty is to facilitate that, not impede it. They also have to know that if they do impede it, there will be a price.