If you are not yet apprehensive about the future of safety and security in our city, you should be.
When video of the brazen and wanton disrespect that police officers endured this past week went viral, New Yorkers overwhelmingly reacted with shock and dismay. We were justifiably appalled that police officers would be treated this way — not long ago the presence of an officer had a reassuring, calming effect. An officer walking the beat meant we were safe, and when they arrived on the scene it meant law and order would be restored.
What we are witnessing signals a new low. We now live in an upside-down world, where troublemakers call the shots and police officers are forced to either endure public harassment and degradation or move on and abandon their posts.
This is the canary in the coal mine. The danger that it signals for everyone in our city cannot be understated.
For years, I have been calling for the return of safety and sanity in law enforcement. What we have seen instead is a pattern of constraining and obstructing the ability of the NYPD to operate as an ethical and effective police force. What we have now is a toxic environment that undermines our officers and threatens the hard-won achievements of the 80s and 90s that we all benefit from. This mistreatment of New York’s Finest must be stopped.
Here is the problem: We have forgotten that the responsibility for law and order is incumbent on each and every one of us. We must be reminded that the police are also members of the public. They are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors. They drop their kids off at school on the way to work and visit their parents, promising to be back soon. Members of our police force are public servants who have chosen to protect the people, a people they are part of. They are not against us; they are us.
Let’s be clear. Police officers signed up to work in a volatile environment. Their daily grind is out in the real world, where they come face to face with dangerous situations. There, they are often tasked with making life-changing, split-second decisions. They do it to keep our neighborhoods, our communities, our families and theirs safe and secure. When we hang our officers out to dry, we do so at great risk to us all.
Our collective negligence must stop now. It is time to admit that we have become derelict in our civic duties, duties that are incumbent on every citizen in the interest of community welfare. To address this travesty and reverse this dangerous trend, the constant barrage of verbal abuse that poisons the collective consciousness must end. The NYPD must be immediately empowered by the full support of this administration and the people they serve to perform their duties. Our success and theirs will be evident in the return of law and order and crime prevention.
As New York’s Finest head out on their next tour, I hope they know with certainty that we value their work, have faith in their ability and wish them a safe return.