CROOKS CARRY HEAT, COPS FEEL THE HEAT
CROOKS CARRY HEAT, COPS FEEL THE HEAT
By Patrick J. Brosnan Richard Harbus/for New York Daily News
A tragic environment
Four NYPD officers have been slaughtered in NYC in less than 12 months, most recently Randolph Holder, shot in the head in East Harlem Tuesday night.
My strong belief, shared by many in the law enforcement community and elsewhere, is that vicious strands of rhetoric and so-called reform have mingled to create a new open season on officers. It was less than a year ago that protestors in New York chanted: “What do we want?” “Dead cops” “When do we want it?” “Now.” Less than two years since Judge Shira Scheindlin virtually stopped proactive policing in the Big Apple through her subjective and constitutionally questionable decision finding the NYPD’s stop-question- and-frisk policy had been illegally applied.
This deadly combination of vicious and irresponsible rhetoric coupled with ideologically driven attempts at so-called reform has simultaneously declawed New York’s Finest while empowering criminals. Press and politics have played a role here, too. Scheindlin’s over-reaching decision seemed poised to be overturned on appeal until newly elected Mayor de Blasio decided to drop that appeal. He did that in a climate where the media has fixated on accounts of alleged police misconduct and a national conversation about “fixing” policing.
All of this has left confidence down among cops, and up among crooks.
Alleged gunman Tyrone Howard’s decision Tuesday to open fire on a uniformed police officer (which means his lawyer won’t get to claim he didn’t know who he was shooting) is a direct result of this emboldening of criminals.
Even criminals consider costs and benefits, and Holder’s murderer decided that shooting at a cop in the hopes of escaping arrest was a worthwhile move in these days of viral anti-police sentiment. Even having been arrested, there is a perverse, sickening, reputational gain for such an act in prison, where cop killers are elevated to hero status.
My view is not purely academic but is drawn from my street experience during 14 years as a robbery/gun squad detective in the South Bronx during the crack-addled ’80s and early ’90s, before Giuliani came to town and stopped the madness.
I personally arrested 900 felons and recovered over 300 loaded guns and, although we were in plainclothes, it was exceedingly rare for a fleeing felon to fire a round and even rarer for one to fire on a uniformed officer.
That’s changed now. Uglier still than the protesters taking to the streets to call cops “pigs” and exponentially worse is Scheindlin’s ruling, which basically gave the bad guys permission to carry guns, with preening sureness that they won’t be searched. Now, they pack heat with relative impunity, confident that New York’s Finest are unlikely to search them, given the astonishing 89% plunge in reported stops.
That’s not to criticize the brave and selfless men and women of the NYPD, but even the most proactive officer’s enthusiasm would be dampened by these difficult conditions. They are sworn to do a tough, at times almost impossible job in the face of crippling rulings and an unprecedented climate of anti-police hatred.
And to do so even as the risk-reward calculus has shifted dramatically for felons who are now, once again, behaving as they did prior to Giuliani’s empowerment of the police, carrying guns in their waistbands rather than hiding them nearby.
And a gun in hand is much more likely to be fired. These deadly weapons are again in waistbands, waiting to mete out street justice — to correct a perceived slight, settle an argument, send a message to rival drug dealers or, tragically, to shoot an officer in the head.
Brosnan, a veteran of the NYPD, is the CEO of Brosnan Risk Consultants