What Do You Mean By Police Slow Down?

By

Anonymous, New York Police Department

            Given the staggering number of ill-conceived criminal justice and police policy reforms over the past couple of years, both nationwide and in New York City where I work, it’s no surprise that the city’s anti-police politicians are pointing fingers at an NYPD job action to explain soaring violent crime.  Calling for an investigation into a police “slow down,” city council members hope to distract city residents from legislation that has emboldened criminals and made it clear that it’s the police officer that’s the bad guy.

            Many New Yorkers aren’t buying it. The casualties of the defund-the-police movement continue to mount, and the ones suffering the most are in poor, minority neighborhoods.  It’s a convenient time to shift the narrative and find someone to blame for a shocking increase in murder and other violent crime, and an equally appalling decline in the city’s quality of life.  Of course, the situation is not unique to New York City – the effects of an anti-police reform movement are being felt nationwide, and particularly in large urban areas.  To no one’s surprise, the cities feeling the worst effects are managed by liberal, soft-on-crime politicians.  But the story playing out in New York is even more disappointing, as this large metropolitan area has managed to stave off crime increases where other cities have not, mostly due to an intense focus on prolific offenders and on broken windows policing – addressing quality of life issues aggressively so they do not translate into a perception of disorder that breeds more lawlessness. 

            Is there a so-called slowdown?  The short answer is yes, but it’s not what you think.  There is no deliberate job action in response to troubling, and often dangerous, legislation and policy.  Rather, the slowdown has been orchestrated from the top – a pre-planned and years-long process under the current and previous two police commissioners and at the behest of the DeBlasio mayoral administration.  Officers and precinct commanders shifted from a focus on enforcement to so-called problem-solving.  Neighborhood policing – a newfangled term for a revamped community policing initiative would reign supreme, and officers would be given time “off the radio” to get to know their neighborhood and its residents.  This would build trust, we were told, paramount to effective policing.  The focus would not be on quality of life, but on the relatively small number of chronic offenders who committed most of the crime. 

            Great on paper, short on foresight.  Combined with sweeping reforms that made laws nearly impossible to enforce, removed protections for police officers to do their work, and freed thousands of criminals from prisons and jails, the shift was the beginning of the end of New York City as we once knew it.  Stepping back from enforcement over several years created an air of lawlessness the likes of which our city hasn’t seen in decades.  The slow down was an administrative one.  A cultural one.  A contrived and forced one.  Not a union or officer inspired one. 

            New York’s police officers continue to do their jobs.  Look no further than Twitter to see that when someone calls 911, they come to their aid, racking up countless rescues and major apprehensions – albeit armed only with the tools a weak city council and feckless mayor have provided them.  The police are effectively playing the hand they are dealt, but when a city’s leadership turns it’s back on the rank and file, it has devastating effects.  If anyone has slowed the police down it’s been the politicians.  The cops continue to respond, but it has to be abundantly clear what they’re expected to do, and they need the backing of city leaders to do it.  Until that formula is firmly in place, the residents of the city’s neediest neighborhoods will never get the safety they’re clamoring for.  Police response will feel worse than slow – it will feel non-existent. 

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