When Public Relations Fails

Two high profile screw ups have brought a great deal of heat on two heads of late, and both have chosen to fight back.  One, New York Police Benevolent Association president, Pat Lynch, chose the path of attacking the attackers. The other, Colorado Congressman Jared Polis, tried the path of human error, spun to his advantage.

Lynch sent out an open letter to “arm-chair judges,” pulling out the usual tropes used by cops to justify why no one but a cop can criticize a cop. He responds to the criticism of Officer James Frascatore for leaping to violence to take out tennis great James Blake.

If you have never struggled with someone who is resisting arrest or who pulled a gun or knife on you when you approached them for breaking a law, then you are not qualified to judge the actions of police officers putting themselves in harm’s way for the public good.

It’s a variation on the quasi-biblical defense, John 8:7, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” We, non-cops, don’t understand. We’ve never stared death in the eyes like cops do.  It’s not only an effective retort, but one that most judges have accepted to absolve police of their poor choices in crafting exceptions for what would be murders if performed by anyone else.

Aside from judges, few buy this hypocritical tripe anymore.

It is mystifying to all police officers to see pundits and editorial writers whose only expertise is writing fast-breaking, personal opinion, and who have never faced the dangers that police officers routinely do, come to instant conclusions that an officer’s actions were wrong based upon nothing but a silent video.  That is irresponsible, unjust and un-American.  Worse than that, your uninformed rhetoric is inflammatory and only serves to worsen police/community relations.

There is nothing more American than demanding restraint and accountability from those given the authority to harm and kill other people.  As for leaping to “instant conclusions,” such as whether to pull a trigger or question why a cop chose force in the absence of any justification, Lynch is right to note that it “only serves to worsen police/community relations.”  But to Lynch, the problem is always the community, never the police.

The men and women of the NYPD are once again disheartened to read another the knee-jerk reaction from ivory tower pundits who enjoy the safety provided by our police department without understanding the very real risks that we take to provide that safety.  Due process is the American way of obtaining justice, not summary professional execution called for by editorial writers.

Au contraire, Patrick. We get it. The public gets it. The ivory tower pundits get it. But the shame is that cops are “disheartened” rather than chastised. No one gives a damn that criticism makes police sad, though we’re more than a little concerned that your officers are so fragile that calling out violence and stupidity is more than their tender souls can take.

If due process is the American way, although its application here isn’t quite analogous, then maybe cops can stop their summary executions and we’ll stop ours. Deal?  No, of course not. Cops are scared. Non-cops die. And the public just doesn’t get “very real risks”?

In contrast, Jared Polis starts with a half-assed mea culpa, a “gaffe.”

I misspoke

During a subcommittee hearing last week about sexual assault on college campuses, I committed a major gaffe during the back-and-forth exchange with a witness who was advocating for removing the authority of colleges to adjudicate sexual assault cases that happen on their campuses. My words did not convey my beliefs nor the policies I now or have ever supported.

This is shocking, since they seemed awfully clear at the time, even followed up by a little snarkiness, cutting off the “witness” who was about to explain why you were an ignorant slut.

During that exchange I went too far by implying that I support expelling innocent students from college campuses, which is something neither I nor other advocates of justice for survivors of sexual assault support. That is not what I meant to say and I apologize for my poor choice of words.

I don’t think “implying” means what you think it does. That’s what you specifically said, which is probably why you don’t actually mention what you said in your pseudo-apology. I’ll help, because that’s the kinda guy I am.

It seems like we ought to provide more of a legal framework, then, that allows a reasonable likelihood standard or a preponderance of evidence standard. If there are 10 people who have been accused, and under a reasonable likelihood standard maybe one or two did it, it seems better to get rid of all 10 people. We’re not talking about depriving them of life or liberty, we’re talking about them being transferred to another university, for crying out loud.”

When you toss in “for crying out loud” at the end, it’s pretty hard to claim you misspoke. You spoke. You got your ass handed to you by, well, everyone who doesn’t support executing the innocent, just in case. And then spend the rest of your allotted space rearguing the point that led you to this horrendous gaffe.

There are very important reasons why colleges and universities currently have jurisdiction over assaults that occur on their campuses, and why the process is separate from the criminal justice system.

I don’t think jurisdiction means what you think it does either.  There is a very important reason, however, why you’re espousing the campus rape advocates’ view that the criminal justice system can’t be trusted. It requires evidence, It provides due process. It won’t just give “survivors'” feelings the free ride they demand.

It’s a weird day in public relations when the head of a police union cries for due process, while an ultra-liberal congressman cries for summary execution of the innocent lest any woman’s feelings not be vindicated.  And it keeps arm-chair judges busy.

13 thoughts on “When Public Relations Fails

  1. Paul L.

    So Pat, can Joseph Lozito judge you?
    I would guess Pat would reply
    Since Joseph Lozito, did not arrest or approach Maksim Gelman for breaking a law, he does not count.
    Or Terrance Howell subdued Maksim Gelman not Joseph Lozito as stated in this NYPBA press release.
    “Police Officer Terrance Howell of Transit District 2 is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Intelligent and Resourceful Action Taken to Defend His Life and the Lives of Innocent Civilians in Apprehending Without Further Bloodshed a Knife-Wielding Serial Stabber and Murderer.”

  2. Nigel Declan

    I don’t understand why Pat Lynch hates individuals who dedicate themselves to evaluating and adjudicating arm-chairs. Perhaps he is just reciting the talking points of the notorious davenport lobbyists.

  3. Osama bin Pimpin

    Is anyone else totally bummed about Polis? I, like a lot of libertarians, gertrude about the philosophy being neither right or left wing (or maybe far right meets far left.

    But up until now, Polis looked like a Democrat on the “correct” side on important issues. And now on this one he is wrong and massively so.

    Maybe after he got what he wanted on gay marriage, he could be done with the principle of civil liberties. Particularly galling that he could support such sexual regulation after its history of use against homosexuals. How many times have closeted homosexuals been pressured into crying rape to avoid social stigma or a sodomy conviction?

  4. David M.

    I heard a rumor that Pat’s first paragraph hasn’t applied to you in a while. But it doesn’t count if it’s DEA, right?

  5. losingtrader

    Can’t you lay off the cops for just one week?

    “Las Vegas ‘Welcome’ sign going blue for Thank a Cop Week.”

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