Police turn backs on New York City

By Ian Hagerty

(Shooting Brooklyn/Flickr)
(Shooting Brooklyn/Flickr)

On Dec. 20 officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu of the New York Police Department were murdered sitting in their cruisers in an execution-like manner. With recent public protests and backlash against the NYPD and a soft approach to the activism led by Mayor Bill de Blasio, much of the NYPD has banded together in protest of the mayor’s response, openly blaming him for the officer deaths. Many called for his removal from office.

At Ramos’ funeral, officers in attendance turned their backs to de Blasio in an act of defiance against his authority. Since that time, arrests and summons in New York City have plummeted dramatically in what can only be seen as an orchestrated wide spread act by the NYPD. Unfortunately for them, a reduction in minor infractions and arrests only hurts the prison industry and a protest of this type only further discredits the NYPD in general.

The NYPD is justifying the drop in arrests by stating that officers are being urged to only make arrests if absolutely necessary for the sake of officer safety. However, even tickets for simple traffic violations are down 92 percent from the same weeks last year. If officers are concerned enough for their safety to not even risk pulling over cars for reckless driving then this is indeed a major slowdown. Even summons for simple offenses like public intoxication are down by 94 percent since last year.

The NYPD did this in an attempt to throw some weight around. They wanted to show what could happen to New York if they weren’t arresting people for every minor crime they could see. However, this drop in arrests for petty crimes and violations hasn’t caused any noticeable problems. In fact, it mostly just takes weight off of the justice system in the city. There have been concerns about a major crime wave engulfing New York with the police slow down. So far, there has yet to be even a ripple.

Another unseen folly of the slow down by the NYPD is the incredible drop in business for the prison system, one of the main supports of a large police force. Three-quarters of the inmates in New York jails are there for minor crimes and are only forced to stay because they can’t afford bail. With the slow down by NYPD officers, most of these prisoners wouldn’t be in jail in the first place and their minor non-violent crime most likely wouldn’t have affected the public at all. Public urination could be unpleasant to a bystander, but do you really care?

The budget for New York prisons is $2.7 billion dollars a year. The cost of the state prisons is $3.6 billion dollars. With three-quarters of inmates in jail for essentially senseless reasons, New York could save incredible amounts of money by reducing its arrest and incarceration rates. Thanks to an experiment by the boys in blue, it is now plainly obvious that we are wasting countless taxpayer dollars. The average inmate costs New York State $60,076 a year – more than most post-college salaries. If we take anything at all from this police slowdown, it’s that we can probably reduce our police force and prison system immensely.

The NYPD slowdown over the last couple of weeks shines on the character of the NYPD force as a whole. Because Mayor de Blasio upset the NYPD by supporting protesters, the NYPD essentially abandoned their posts to get back at him. This decision, while it does affect the mayor, had the potential to affect the public much more.

The NYPD was attempting to show the city and the mayor how crime would rise and flourish if they were to take a step back. The NYPD was openly willing to risk the safety of the public, the group it is sworn to protect, in order to make a point. They were willing to see innocent people get hurt to prove their own usefulness.

As all evidence points at this moment, this plan backfired. However, it shows a complete indecent lack of care for the citizens of the city. It showed that the NYPD would only protect its citizens if they were never scrutinized or critiqued, the complete opposite of the point of public servants.

DWI arrests in New York decreased by 67.1 percent compared to the same weeks last year. We can safely assume, with such a large decrease in DWI arrests from one year to another that either New Yorker’s stopped drinking as much, or the NYPD has been allowing people to drift between lanes, risking any number of deadly accidents. While many arrests by officers are pointless and simply support our conviction happy courts, certain crimes like DWIs or violent offenses need to be taken seriously. Why should we trust someone to protect us when they abandon us after a little bit of criticism?

Ian Hagerty is a Collegian columnist ands can be reached at [email protected]