Two Cops Dead, And Still Feeding the Crazies

Two New York City police officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were executed while sitting in their cruiser in Brooklyn.  They were murdered by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who ran away, then killed himself.  Brinsley came up from Maryland to find two random cops to kill. And he did.

These murders are, and are not, connected to the killing of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. And Akai Gurley and Tamir Rice.

The double killing comes at a moment when protests over police tactics have roiled the city and other parts of the nation. Since a grand jury declined to bring criminal charges in the case of Mr. Garner, a black Staten Island man who died after a police chokehold in July, protesters have filled the streets on numerous occasions. Those protests followed more violent ones in Ferguson, Mo., after there were no charges in the police shooting of Mr. Brown, an unarmed black teenager.

These cops had nothing to do with any of these killings, but they were cops.  To the crazies out there, for whom all cops are the enemies, and to whom the only solution is to kill cops, they are the personification of their anger and frustration.  The insane mind contorts its vision of the world in ways no one can quite predict, but it’s not as if this was hard to see coming. There are a lot of crazies out there. A lot.

Here, there are always a cadre of people reacting to every post about police misconduct and abuse, and most specifically about the police wrongfully killing someone, with the “answer” being that all police must be treated like “the Nazi storm troopers they are.”  This reaction, of course, is that of the extraordinarily angry and irrational.  No sane person sees this as an appropriate way of behaving.

But there are crazies out there, whether we like it or not. And they are getting increasingly angry, increasingly frustrated with the way certain interactions between police and non-cops are happening lately. And their blood boils. And they seethe. And they feel that something must be done. And they feel that they must do it. And . . . something insane, like this, happens.

The problem is that the message sent is not the message received.  The police don’t perceive the anger and frustration on their violent and cavalier treatment of others as a matter that should cause them deep concern; are they losing the support of the people they are supposed to protect and serve?  Are they too filled with fear and loathing of their neighbors, of black skin, of “them,” that they are the violent aggressors in a society where the police are supposed to be the ones to stop the violent aggressors?

Is the First Rule of Policing the foremost impediment to mutual support and respect?

Instead, this will heighten the fear and antagonism of police officers, none of whom is willing to take any chance of being the next cop executed in his cruiser.  Will the person who approaches an RMP to ask for directions be killed as he knocks on the window?  Certainly such an aggressive act will justify a legitimate fear of death because two cops were shot.

PBA president Pat Lynch appears to be upping the rhetoric right off the top:

This won’t help cops. This won’t help anyone else. Aside from the worst-kept secret that we’ve had a “wartime” police department for years, such challenging rhetoric merely reinforces the anger that gives rise to attacks. Pat Lynch may complain that this is all due to Holder and de Blasio not showing the “tough” support for cops that would melt the heart of a union boss, but then, guys like Lynch never saw a shoot that wasn’t righteous.

Blood in the streets is no answer for anyone.  These murders are horrible, intolerable and, for those who think there is anything good coming out of such action, unbearably counterproductive.  Yet that is the same message for police.  You want to get home for dinner. We all do.

We all do.

32 thoughts on “Two Cops Dead, And Still Feeding the Crazies

  1. JohnC

    To former and Gov. George Pataki for blaming New York City Bill de Blasio and Attorney General Eric Holder before naming officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, I say, “fuck you!” you irrelevant hack.

    And “Fuck you!” to the PBA, for saying the “mayors [sic] hands are literally [sic] dripping with our blood,” that you will act as a “wartime” police department, and that not-so-subtle “Nice city you got here….” And really, talking about the 1970s? That’s the direction you want to take this? I hope you all come down with kidney-shingles.

    Fuck anyone blaming the execution on the failure to indict in the Garner case. Reasons are not causes and causes are not reasons. He shot a woman for fuck’s sake. And no, the Garner/Brown/Trayvon cases and this are nothing alike.

    Fuck anyone now arguing this proves/disproves the need for stricter gun control. Take your priors and reinsert them from whence they came.

    Fuck anyone anyone who worries how this will affect his or her grades.

    An omnibus “Fuck You!” to the commentariat (including, but not limited to):
    (1) Who point out that he Instagrammed a passage for the Koran.
    (2) Who argue that police work is less dangerous than being a garbageman or florist or whatever.
    (3) At (presumably) all of Infowars. No, you screed-mongering militant wannabes, it’s not a revolution. Everyone hates you. I’d rather be ruled by the plenary whims of Bloomberg and the Detroit city counsel … for life.
    4. At (presumably) all of PoliceOne. No, it’s not like Iraq. And really, you’re gonna quit? Fuck you. You’re fungible. Do your fucking job. You will never find another outside of teaching in which you can be so sub-mediocre and still get well-paid.

    Fuck you to Al Sharpton, Nancy Grace, etc. because *obvious.*

    Yes, there are serious issues. Yes, most of us say things assuming the consequences are that the individual snowflake in a blizzard. If far from perfect, law enforcement has generally improved by any measure over the past several decades; and an opportunity for real improvement is percolating. So, fuck anyone who, fearing unexpressed thoughts grow septic and generally getting off on resentment, derails that and makes this tragedy about themselves, or someone else besides two dead cops and a worthless psycho who thankfully is not and will never again be a public expense.

  2. Jake DiMare

    But it’s so much easier to blame Bill de Blasio instead of the structural budget cuts gutting mental health care programs across the country and the rising tide of guns…

    1. Jack

      There are no reasons for this – reasons imply rational decision making and logic, something a mentally disturbed person doesn’t have. There is always going to be injustice and there are always going to be irrational crazy people who are extremely violent – no matter what changes, this will always exist.

      Pointing the finger at cops, guns, the mental health system, the budget, or whatever to explain why a crazy person acts crazy misses entirely. Crazy people act crazy and violent regardless of what society is doing – always have and always will.

  3. Nigel Declan

    I hope someone Pat Lynch respects can convince him that his comments are not only entirely inappropriate, given his role as the head of the PBA, a leadership position which calls for principled, rather than reactionary, responses to such acts, but that they are wholly antithetical to his mission of protecting the safety and interests of police officers.

  4. Charles Platt

    Your point about crazy cop-killers creating bad unintended consequences is well taken (e.g. further militarization of the police, more cases where scared cops shoot people).

    However, there is such a thing as balance of power. Where I live, in the outer boondocks of Northern Arizona, there is a very large area known as Juniperwood where the people are so notoriously hostile to authority, I was told by a county police officer that the cops have a policy under which they will not go into the area “unless someone has died.” That is, the police are somewhat afraid of the citizenry. As a result, activities such as no-knock drug busts are unknown, let alone busting someone for selling cigarettes.

    I fully realize that Juniperwood is a very extreme case, and such a “lawless” area would entail obvious dangers if it existed, say, in an inner-city location. But it does suggest to me that a rebellious population has some advantages over a population that has been systematically intimidated. Of course rebellion should be nonviolent. But if you have a police presence that has become ruthless and oppressive, is the threat of violent resistance a reasonable last resort, regardless of its illegality?

    1. JohnC

      I’m so sorry for you. Arizona sounds like it should be a work of dystopian fiction: A carcinogenic, moonscaped free-for-all of arms dingbats patrolling and traffickers and preposterous semi-lunatic officials who’d be figures of fun if they didn’t thoroughly piss all over the public.

      1. Charles Platt

        Thanks for the perceptive comment. However, the question of when, if ever, it may be ethically legitimate to use the threat of violence to rebel against an oppressive law-enforcement regime remains unaddressed. Would it be legitimate in, say, a dictatorship where police are agents of state oppression? Or how about the Bronx? Anywhere?

        1. SHG Post author

          Guys, it is my strong preference not to go further down this road. I was reluctant to let this get started, but thought it fair to allow some leeway for catharsis. But debating the merit of a rebellious citizenry would best happen elsewhere. This is a time for rhetorical de-escalation, and this is never a place to advocate for violence against anyone.

          1. rylen

            Rolling Stone has an article from late November online asking “What Constitutes Appropriate Rebellion?” I say this because you two want to talk about it and that might be an appropriate place.

  5. Wheeze the People™

    All this killing really sucks. Makes it tough to identify as a member of the human race. Hey, I know an easy fix — let’s reconstitute the NYPD TPF. That will solve all these problems . . .

    1. Jyjon

      Wouldn’t the tipping point be more accurately placed at the time when emotions not reason became the policing model?

      Use fear to paralyze the citizen so the police are safe. And react to any situation based on fear when dealing with the citizens.

      Fear don’t last forever and when it wears off, you have angry people on both sides of the fence.

      History shows again and again that nature points out the folly of men.

    2. Anne Krone

      I’m in agreement with you ECLS, and it’s not because of any of the high profile police shootings. Those have always popped up and were not surprising to those who knew how the system really works. It’s because the local police managed to lose my mother’s trust. My mother is the avatar of the white middle class Republican police supporter. The one who really, really, really wants to believe that the system is fair and everyone in law enforcement plays by the rules. The one that will believe the official tap dances performed by the police spokespeople as if it were Holy Writ.
      Someone lobbed a rock through her sliding glass doors. She called the police (I believe the first time ever)–not 911 because that’s only for emergencies, as she would once lecture– to report the crime. When the police showed up, the officer cussed at her and told her to stop wasting his f***ng time and then left. All he had to do was keep his language clean in front of a little old lady and pretend he cared and she would still be an ardent police supporter. That’s gone. It’s all she could talk about this Thanksgiving.

      1. SHG Post author

        So your mother is society’s trailing indicator? Does she know you said so? I wonder how all the other mothers across America feel about it?

  6. Donny G.

    You know what I notice about the targeted cop killings (Miller, Frein, Dorner, now Brinsley)?
    None of them were the song and dance that cops are always trying to push. We see police overreact in traffic and street stops all the time, with the “in fear for my life” malarky, but being extra paranoid on a traffic stop would have stopped exactly none of these incidents. In not one of these cases were the killers the focus of the cops prior to the attacks, they were always taken by surprise.

    Getting tough on citizens in the street isn’t going to make cops safe from this kind of random attack, but it will lead to some poor schmuck getting shot for holding a wallet (again), which will in turn inspire some other wacko to copycat Brinsley. You want to be safe? Stop acting like a gang of evil thugs and drawing the self-righteous wingnuts out.

    1. SHG Post author

      In fairness, bad things occasionally happen to cop doing their routine job, but no, these executions are not examples of them, and tend to be reactive to instance of police conduct rather than causal.

  7. Bob Mc

    IANAL but, wouldn”t the City Council be the body to declare war? Or did the city cede that power to PBA at some secret arbitration hearing?

    What if Lynch just declared martial law instead of outright war, does that make it legal?

    I would think the Governor had to sign off, but you never know what’s allowed under the contract.

    1. SHG Post author

      Nobody has the authority to officially “declare war” by the police on their own people. Such a notion is legally impossible. But this isn’t about making it legal. It’s about making it happen.

  8. bill

    I was going to ask “Are all PBA Boss’s clowns like this guy and Follmer?” but I knew I better search for myself before asking. So I searched for PBA folks of any stripes denouncing Lynch’s comments. One hit from August, from the Black PBA denouncing his words toward Garner. Nothing else on the first few pages. Admittedly, I didn’t put more than 15 minutes into it, but I guess the silence not only answered my question, it did so loudly enough it hurts.

  9. Turk

    Trying to ascribe “reasons” why a crazy person shoots two cops is no easier than trying to ascribe reasons why a person shoots up a schoolroom full of kids.

    You can’t outthink, outwit or outsmart crazy as you really have no idea what the crazy person is really thinking.

    Horror stories are not empirical evidence of anything. Just good examples that there are people with mental illnesses out there.

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