On Shabbos, two NYPD officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were gunned down in cold blood in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Gunned down just for being cops. Gunned down in a neighborhood they were trying to make safer.
That’s what New York’s cops do: put their lives on the line every day to make one of the largest cities in the world a safe place for its more than eight million inhabitants. The NYPD is there patrolling our neighborhoods, our streets, our subways.
Next week a million or more people will gather in Times Square to witness the traditional ball drop. Who will be there for hours in the bone-chilling cold keeping order and protecting the crowd from mayhem, criminal activity and terrorists? The thousands of NPYD officers screening individuals, manning barricades and directing traffic.
Does the NYPD sometimes make mistakes? Of course. The NYPD would not deny that it does. It is not infallible. It’s an organization made up of human beings who are given the right to use force, sometimes lethal force, when they perceive a deadly threat to themselves or to others. The decision whether or not to use lethal force often must be made within a split second.
And sometimes — but rarely — the decision turns out to be tragic. Out of the thousands of misdemeanor arrests the NYPD made this year, one — only one — ended with a tragic and unintended death. That’s unfortunate, but we are confident that the NYPD will do all it can to ensure that such deaths become even rarer.
All those who have been protesting against the NYPD during the last few weeks should ask themselves this: If it were 2:00 a.m., or any time of the day or night, and they thought someone was breaking into their house or apartment, whom would they call? The NYPD, of course. The 911 operator won’t ask for the race or creed of the caller, but will immediately dispatch a patrol car, which will arrive in minutes. Those wearing the blue uniform will not shirk from confronting any and every danger — so that none of us has to.
Apparently, the murderer of Liu and Ramos had revenge in mind, revenge for so-called police brutality. While the irresponsible media loves nothing more than focusing on isolated cases of death or injury at the hands of law enforcement, there is little or no reporting when police officers suffer injury in the line of duty. The media is not interested in whipping up a frenzy of protest when it comes to brutality against police officers who are trying to protect the public from hoodlums and thugs.
During the 1970s and 1980s, many urban experts predicted the demise of cities such as New York and Detroit. They pointed to the growing urban decay, the burnt-out neighborhoods, the unchecked crime, and the flight to the suburbs as proof that the once-proud American city had no future.
They were almost right, except that there were some courageous individuals in the NYPD — William Bratton, for one — who decided to challenge that dystopian prediction for the future of urban America. Bratton, as the police commissioner, decided to enforce the “broken window” policy of policing, which, simply put, posited that small crimes breed larger crimes. The key behind the theory was that violent crimes are a direct outgrowth of allowing smaller crimes, such as subway fare-beating and vandalism, to go unchecked. Not punishing small crimes encourages criminals to take advantage of societal apathy and commit larger ones, until crime becomes an everyday and expected occurrence.
The tales of two cities, New York City and Detroit, could have been very much the same during the subsequent decades, but wound up very different. New York adopted the “broken window” theory of policing. Once that policy was enforced by the NYPD, New York became a very different city. It went from a city that never slept due to car alarm sirens wailing in the night to one that is up at all hours of the night due to its vibrancy and vitality, an international city that’s become the capital of the world. It has become one of the safest cities on the globe, thanks to the efforts of the NYPD in enforcing penalties for petty criminal behavior. It’s that enforcement that has ultimately saved thousands of lives.
Unfortunately, Detroit became the “control” of the “broken window” experiment, refusing to adopt the new policing methods so wholeheartedly embraced by the NYPD. The thousands of abandoned buildings and houses in Detroit, the city’s bankruptcy and chaos, are stark reminders of what New York City might have become had the NYPD not decided to battle crime at every level.
We offer our sympathies and condolences to the families of the two slain officers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. We hope that all New Yorkers will understand that thousands of officers, like Liu and Ramos, jeopardize their safety every day so that the rest of us can live and work in this city without fear.