Last Wednesday, New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told the unions. He told his top commanders, who come after the unions, over the next two days:
Seeking to end more than two weeks of a precipitous drop in police activity, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said on Friday that he had instructed top commanders to do what they could to reverse the trend.
What Bratton did not do is order the police officers under his command to do the job for which they’re paid. Nor did he order the cops under his command to perform the function for which their peculiar authority is given by the people of New York. No, Bratton told his top commanders to do what they could.
To their credit, the unions have done an extraordinary job of spreading their message to the public about how the cops are their heroes, our saviors, so they should be entitled their occasional beating and killing. Well, we’ve been over this ground already.
The New York Times used its rectal thermometer to take the temperature of New Yorkers after the rank and file cops made clear that they will not succumb to civil authority. There should have been a high fever. Instead, the temperature was tepid.
A wide assortment of interviews conducted to gauge the temper of the public over the police-mayor strife found people blaming the police, people blaming the mayor, and many on both sides wanting a final act in this ugly play that seems stalled without an obvious ending.
Framing this as “police-mayor strife” was the leading indicator. The mayor was the embodiment of the issue, taking position against the police engaging in unconstitutional conduct like stop & frisk, or killing unarmed black men. But these are mayor issues; these are foundational issues. The strife was between the police and everyone else, enough so that even black cops were afraid.
Many citizens are clearly repulsed by how the police are expressing their anger. They have turned to calling them “infantile” or “sulky children.” Some feel they should be docked pay. Or fired. Others roundly criticize the mayor as the root of the problem.
After all, what would we do without the police to protect us?
Ivy Zheng, 40, who lives in Queens and helps her husband with his point-of-sale and security-camera equipment business in Chinatown, said, speaking in Mandarin: “We should all support the police. Without the police what would we do — it’s too scary to think about.”
And really, isn’t this all because we’re unworthy of the sacrifice cops make for us?
Michael Urbaez, 31, a carpenter from the Bronx, does not especially like the slowdown but feels the police are warranted in showing their disdain for Mr. de Blasio, whom Mr. Urbaez considers a poor role model.
“I’m all for the cops,” he said. “I understand what they go through in their daily life — my cousin is a cop. Today I see a lot of no respect everywhere. I take the train every day, I see kids with no morals.”
And that’s all the police unions, the shills, the articles extolling the virtues of our saviors, needed to overcome the consequences of what they’ve done here. Villify the people, venerate the police, and life in New York can return to normal as far as the people are concerned. Just let the war be over, and we can all forget about it as if it never happened. See? Problem solved.
Except for Mayor de Blasio, who has now been proven powerless in the face of police insubordination. And Commissioner Bratton, who was reduced to begging his troops to not make him look like the most worthless chief ever, who then had to watch as the rank and file spit in his face.
And except for the people of the City of New York, as cops return to the streets to do as much of the job as they feel like it, in whatever way they feel like it, because they own the streets. They own the mayor. They own the commissioner. They own the courts, as the judges have long been too afraid of the cops to take any risk of their disapproval. And they own us.
The fear was that Mayor de Blasio would engage in talks with Pat Lynch as to how many free shots plus pay increases he would have to give to the PBA to get the cops to not make him look foolish. Which of our constitutional rights would be put on the table to get the police to love him?
That fear was misguided. If this disappears with barely a whimper, it’s unconditional surrender. There is no parity between the people of New York City and the police force. The idea was that they work for us. The idea was that they serve us. They smacked us in the face and told us we got it all wrong; we exist for them.
If they go back to work, if nothing comes of this, if there are no consequences or lesson taught and learned, they win. That Bratton asked only for his commanders to do what they could shows they have forfeited command and control over the cops, and that’s the best they can do. The cops still get paid for not doing their job. Life goes on as if it never happened. And Eric Garner is still dead. Problem solved.