Latest update: April 19th, 2012
The recent shooting of four police officers in the normally tranquil Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn (bringing the total to eight cops shot so far this year) has confirmed a dangerous double standard that threatens the safety of police officers and all New Yorkers throughout New York. It must be confronted.
City police officers are being shot in frightening numbers, with heroes like Peter Figoski paying the ultimate price, killed in the line of duty just for doing his job. Yet the larger public is noticeably, even if unintentionally, absent from championing those officers who put everything on the line every day.
Worse yet, the ACLU-types who never miss an opportunity to vilify and malign Commissioner Kelly and the NYPD for any and every mistake (real or perceived) a police officer makes are conspicuously absent when cops are being used for target practice all across the city.
Instead of recognizing the inherent risks and difficulties of keeping millions of New Yorkers safe and applauding the grace and restraint police officers have repeatedly shown under fire, the armchair critics incessantly continue to heap on criticism and refuse to acknowledge the realities of keeping our city safe (while failing to offer an iota of constructive criticism).
Perennial publicity hounds like the Reverend Al Sharpton, who have made careers out of putting personal ambition and political theater ahead of public safety, exacerbate tensions instead of calming them.
Dedicated crime fighters deserve our staunch support and require the true and tried tools available, under the law, to go about their all-important task of keeping all New Yorkers safe. Second-guessing by clueless libertarians and partisan politicians is counterproductive and insulting to those of us who live and work here. We know the NYPD has made the quality of life for all New Yorkers significantly better. It is time we all said so publicly.
For the silent majority – the law abiding citizens – the NYPD has been doing a masterful job navigating the balancing act of keeping New York City safe while faithfully upholding the civil liberties U.S. law guarantees all citizens.
Are the police perfect? Is anybody? There are bad apples in every profession and the NYPD is not immune. Police officers who engage in wrongful acts should be held to the highest standards, but bad behavior by a handful of police officers should not instigate a broad indictment of the entire department and its practices.
Recently, ten Congressional Democrats, including a member of the party’s leadership and lawmakers involved in the House Intelligence and Homeland Security committees, inserted themselves into the NYPD spying program debate by criticizing Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his “underhanded and unprofessional” response to criticism of the spying program and calling for an end to the NYPD’s out-of-state spying on Islamic communities.
The mayor has repeatedly defended his department’s actions as lawful and necessary to keep New York safe and he and his administration have brushed off concerns, raised by lawmakers and civil rights groups, that the NYPD’s activities are constitutionally suspect.
And while many New Yorkers may often not agree with the Bloomberg administration on various issues, when it comes to safety and security the mayor has earned extraordinarily high marks.
Pragmatic citizens understand that the strategies employed by the NYPD are appropriate given the grave terrorist threats leveled against New York City and its residents. Moreover, with respect to more mundane day-to-day criminal activity, statistics confirm that the city continues to maintain impressive crime reduction numbers in most major categories.
It is reasonable to sympathize with the law-abiding members of the Muslim community who must endure the endless questions and increased scrutiny that have come their way since 9/11. The results, though, speak for themselves. Fact is, New York continues to be the world’s premier terrorist target and the very police officers who are so often criticized have crafted a perfect record in thwarting numerous terror plots hatched against the city since that terrible September morning more than 10 years ago.
Most of those major accomplishments are the result of an aggressive strategy of prevention, employed by a fair but unrelenting police commissioner, with the support of the mayor’s office.
Though it’s hard to blame anybody for feeling unfairly targeted, New Yorkers of all backgrounds must accept the dreadful reality of living in a large metropolis filled with illegal weapons and plenty of bad guys ready and willing to use them, especially on police officers. If added scrutiny is what it takes to save lives, then the police are welcome to stop and frisk me too. New York has come too far to regress to the pre-Giuliani days of rampant lawlessness and widespread fear.
Ray Kelly has earned the benefit of the doubt. Sensible people of all faiths and cultures, especially those of us in the Jewish community, should be thankful and deeply appreciative to the police commissioner and the thousands of heroic officers of the NYPD who daily risk their lives to protect us.
Recently, Commissioner Kelly was called on the carpet by some City Council members for what they deem questionable police strategies. Kelly flipped the questioning around and queried the Council members as to what they might do better to stem the tide of illegal weapons on city streets and how they might improve community policing overall. Their lack of any meaningful response was telling. The commissioner has it right.
Chaskel Bennett is a writer and community activist.
About the Author: Chaskel Bennett is a writer, respected activist and member of the Board of Trustees of Agudath Israel of America. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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