Clearly, when New York City police officers are the target, no one in our city is safe. And, yes, there is reason to believe that the actions of some citizens and more than a few elected officials played a role in enflaming the hate that brought the lunatic to Brooklyn.
You could see it coming. First, the intense shouting at and pushing of officers at the protests. Then, the physical assaults on officers on the Brooklyn Bridge which received widespread attention, but other lesser publicized incidents were occurring, with arrests made. And, finally, there were the murders of the two officers who were doing what they do every workday — protecting us.
Now, almost everybody wants calm. As the expression goes, this is “too little, too late.” Nevertheless, it is the right motivation and hopefully will take a hold. Regardless, in a world in which actions speak louder than words, I would hope that more conciliatory comments coming from the mayor and the City Council are followed up with actions.
Several that I think make sense are simple enough. The Council should put its anti- cop legislation masquerading as reform on hold. These bills pitted the police against the public and frankly, if enacted, would have made policing more difficult.
Councilmember Gentile has made much hay about being the deputy Democratic leader of the Council. He should use his leadership position to stop these bills from ever reaching the floor for a vote.
The mayor needs not simply to get his rhetoric straight; he needs to allow his police commissioner to issue orders that make sense to the rank and file of the department and the general public.
For instance, free- wheeling protests that take over streets, highways and bridges cannot be permitted. Peaceful expressions of disapproval should be allowed only in cordoned-off, permitted areas, which had been the city’s policy for many years.
The mayor must back his police all the time, not just from time to time. He constantly says that 99.9 percent of the police do a great job, so he needs to show it.
Protests are supposed to be an expression of free speech, not of civil disobedience. This applies to the City Council in which members should not be allowed effectively to break the law by marching onto Broadway, stopping traffic and creating a disruption. Members who do such should be sanctioned with the loss of a leadership title or key committee assignment.
Past Council leaders — whether they be the conservative Peter Vallone or the liberal Christine Quinn — knew how to keep some level of order and decorum in the Council. You might not have agreed with the Council – and I often did not – but you could at least respect them. This Council disrespects the rule of law, which is about as low as you can get for a legislative body.
New York City will get through these tense times. But we can only come through them stronger if our city’s leadership begins to lead. That is what the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers want and need. That is what the police needs from its elective officials.
It is beyond tragic that it took the murders of two of our city’s finest to get everyone at least temporarily on the same page. Now it’s key that we stay on that page, so we can move forward.
I had a great 2014 and I hope you did too. Now, as the year comes to an end, allow me to wish you a safe, happy and healthy 2015!
Happy New Year!!!