A major New York police union is facing off with local and state politicians over directives to strongly enforce social distancing protocol amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
New York City Police Benevolent Association slammed the “cowards” in charge of local and state public health policy in an official statement last week, announcing the New York Police Department officers it represents will no longer be made the face of social distancing enforcement — which the union claims has left communities no safer physically and further eroded the public trust.
“This situation is untenable,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch wrote. “NYPD needs to get cops out of the social distancing enforcement business altogether. The cowards who run this city have given us nothing but vague guidelines and mixed messages, leaving the cops on the street corners to fend for ourselves.”
“Meanwhile, those same politicians are still watering down our laws, releasing real criminals and discouraging proactive enforcement of fare evasion and quality of life issues. As a result, our subways are in chaos and we have hero nurses getting mugged on their way to our hospitals,” Lynch said.
“As the weather heats up and the pandemic continues to unravel our social fabric, police officers should be allowed to focus on our core public safety mission. If we don’t, the city will fall apart before our eyes.”
.@NYCPBA calls for end of @NYPDnews policing of social distancing: “As the weather heats up & the pandemic continues to unravel our social fabric, police officers should be allowed to focus on our core public safety mission. If we don’t, the city will fall apart before our eyes.” pic.twitter.com/YPYZUh4TG2
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) May 4, 2020
Far and away the hardest hit area of the United States, according to Johns Hopkins data, New York has struggled with how best to establish and maintain lower coronavirus transmission rates.
Democratic leadership in the state was quick to take the lead from California in terms of policy, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo becoming the second of more than 40 governors to implement an executive order closing so-called “nonessential” businesses and discouraging public interaction on March 22 , according to CNN.
Enforcement of the policy, however, was largely left up to local officials — some of whom, have used the opportunity to greatly expand their authority over the public. Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, for instance, encouraged NYPD to begin patrolling the city just days after the order, warning, citing and in some cases arresting those in violation, The Hill reported.
“We have to keep people separated,” de Blasio said. “So our men and women of the NYPD will be out there spreading the message, telling people to break it up, move along, no lines tight together in a grocery store, no grocery stores full up.”
While the Northeast has had an unusually cool spring, there have been warm days. And as occasionally warm weather arrived and more violations began taking place with residents beginning to congregate outdoors, Cuomo and de Blasio would take a more threatening tone.
“It’s insensitive, it’s arrogant, it’s self-destructive, it’s disrespectful to other people, and it has to stop, and it has to stop now,” Cuomo said. “This is not a joke, and I am not kidding.
Yet the city and surrounding municipalities, having seen a dramatic surge in “major crime” such as robbery and burglary in the months leading up to the outbreak, according to Daily Mail Online, was intent upon releasing a number of convicted offenders back onto the streets in order to slow viral transition among incarcerated populations,
Of course, those arrests, disproportionately impacting minority communities, did little to foster confidence in the equity and fairness of the justice system among locals — a problem de Blasio would then lay at the feet of NYPD.
“We HAVE TO do better and WE WILL,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter as the arrest data was released.
“That disparity, I don’t like, I don’t accept,” the mayor said at a news conference Friday, according to Time, refusing to take personal responsibility for the policy’s impact on generally law-abiding locals. “I want to see every community treated fairly, but I want a resolute approach where it’s really clear we got to follow these rules.”
.@NYCMayor is threatening to furlough and lay-off police officers. This pandemic under his leadership, with the release of thousands from Rikers, has created a public safety nightmare. We need cops now more than ever. https://t.co/DLU8cb9R4h
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) May 7, 2020
Before the pandemic, crime was up in almost every single category including shootings. In Brooklyn, they’re *still* going up. What will happen when summer heats up? We’re heading toward another public safety emergency.https://t.co/4c3Aney31M
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) May 9, 2020
With fears the annual summer crime wave may hit even harder this year as a result of countless Americans remaining pent up inside for weeks on end, however, it seems NYPD is no longer willing to spread itself thin to enforce unprecedented and excessive public health protocol.
And good for them.
Are we really expecting local law enforcement in our largest metropolitan areas to leave law-abiding citizens at increased risk of victimization by our society’s real criminals, only for cops to be made the bad guy for enforcing the rules at store openings and family picnics?
Why? So sleazy bureaucrats can still make the claim they were simply doing all they could to keep health outcomes top-notch come election season, all the while absolving themselves of blame for the economic and social fallout their policies created?
I don’t think so.
And with any luck, this mess might just encourage law enforcement to take a stand against tyrannical orders on the front end next time.
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