|Posted on December 30, 2014 at 8:15 PM|
Winston Churchill famously complained: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."
And Churchill isn’t wrong. Democracies have elected some real jackasses to public office while great statesmen have known electoral defeat. Churchill made this particular statement in the context of having won WWII for the British, but then being defeated in the subsequent general election.
In New York City, the NYPD are upset that Mayor Bill De Blasio admitted that he and his wife were concerned for their bi-racial son, revealing: “because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we've had to literally train him, as families have all over this city for decades, in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him."
In response to De Blasio’s parental concerns, a coalition of current and retired NYPD employees released a Boxing Day statement which included the following message:
"We no longer have confidence in Mayor De Blasio, nor in his ability to lead New York City and promote the values that both the NYPD and the good law abiding citizens of the city hold dear. Mayor De Blasio turned his back on us long before we turned our backs on him."
And now we are hearing the police union is telling police offices not to respond to any calls unless there are two units available. The union is saying this is out of concern for the safety of its members as a result of De Blasio’s comment, but the real effect is that of a wild cat strike. Unless the City is prepared to double the amount of cars on duty, there simply won’t be enough officers available to respond with two units per every call.
As citizens, New Yorkers have the right to judge the appropriateness of the Mayor’s comments. Individual police offices too, share in this right.
And as citizens, New Yorkers also have the right to judge the appropriateness of the NYPD’s response. It is not disrespectful to the NYPD to be asking about issues of racism within the force, or if there are ways to reduce instances of lethal force being applied. In a healthy democracy, these sorts of debates need to happen.
What I find appalling is that the public safety in New York is in jeopardy because the NYPD force has decided not to allow meaningful debate. The message is clear. New York politicians must acquiesce to what the NYPD wants or else all New Yorkers will suffer the consequences of a police job action.
Here’s the reality that the NYPD seem to have forgotten. The police work for the people and they have been given extraordinary power (up to and including lawfully taking someone’s life) by the people for the sake of public security. No other city employee – not the fire department, the sanitation workers, or any city clerk – has been given anywhere near the power as police officers have. With this power, the NYPD must accept that they have greater responsibilities than the average city employee has.
The people have elected Bill De Blasio to represent them. The NYPD may not like Bill De Blasio but they are accountable to the citizens of New York and should always show respect for the Mayor’s office. Regardless of the man or woman who wears the Mayor’s chains, the police must never forget what those chains represent.
Imagine the public outrage if American troops were to turn their backs to the American flag in a protest. This is, in essence, what the NYPD has done. Those uniformed officers who turned their backs to the Mayor have also turned their backs on people. Mayor De Blasio is the representative of the people of NYC and it is time for the NYPD to end their protest.
I’m not saying that while off duty and out of uniform, police officers can’t or shouldn’t protest. But once the uniform is on, each officer must respect the authority that the public has given and the people who allow such power.
Respect, not protest, is what is expected of each on duty officer.