By Ed Mullins
At the intersection of social media, activism, cowardice, and generational impatience is a list of overused cliches: kid in a candy store, inmates running the asylum, fox guarding the hen house, part of the solution or part of the problem, and don’t trust anyone over thirty. But recent anti police protests in Downtown Brooklyn also brings to mind another saying: these self styled progressive activists have finally shown their true colors – and it’s ugly.
With vulgar hateful signs and chants, this anti police crowd engaged in disgraceful behavior designed for online promotion. They were hoping for their message to go viral, but instead revealed their sickness. What has been implied and understood has now been said out in the open. Proposals aimed at law enforcement procedures and practice aren’t about well intentioned reforms, they are about hating police.
These professional protesters, the new base of the Democratic party, are using their smart phones and social media feeds to scare elected officials into submission through fear of a primary challenge from the left. Democratic Assemblymembers, Senators, and Councilmembers – on a variety of issues throughout New York City and State – are tripping over each other (and themselves) to prove their radical left credentials. No position is too reckless to embrace, and no policy is too irresponsible to advance, in their quest to avoid a primary challenge. And for those in the New York City Council term-limited out of office soon, their capitulation is about the next job. This refusal to stand up for common sense is impacting our safety on the streets and in subways, and is plainly eroding our quality of life.
Process matters. How information is gotten and treated matters. This is particularly true when the information being sought involves the highly fact and situational specific interactions that police and first responders regularly engage in. No police interaction, no state trooper interaction, and no correctional officer interaction is the same as any other. Every single situation is different, and every single situation has the potential for danger. Information from first responder personnel files should not be treated the same as data from the Department of Buildings, NYCHA, or the Department of Transportation. First responder personnel files are different, and should be.
Which is why Democratic efforts, instigated and driven by the anti police activists marching in Brooklyn, to make first responder personnel files more easily available – with the stated purpose of putting this information up online – are as dangerous as they are reckless.
Section 50a of New York’s Civil Rights laws now requires a court order to obtain information from the personnel files of first responders, in recognition of the unique nature of police work. This information is still regularly and routinely provided to District Attorneys, federal agencies, the State Attorney General’s office, inspector generals, in civil lawsuits, and in divorce proceedings – all with appropriate protection of a judge weighing how the information will be used and the merit of the request. This is a thoughtful and deliberate process.
But as we see, the radicals driving much of Democratic policies in Albany and City Hall have little use for process when it stands in the way of their social media posts. It’s what they want when they want it, and how dare anyone disagree.
Hateful protests in Downtown Brooklyn shouldn’t drive statewide policy discussions. All the areas outside of New York City – Long Island, Westchester and Rockland counties, the Hudson Valley, Capital Region, North Country, Southern Tier, and Western and Central New York – have first responders and law enforcement professionals that would be impacted by reckless changes to 50a. And each of these suburban and rural areas have their own priorities and values.
The Sergeants Benevolent Association, the diverse union of frontline managers I have the honor of leading, stands with all first responders in every region of New York in opposition to the anti police rhetoric being spewed recently in Downtown Brooklyn. Our city – Brooklyn and all the boroughs – is better than this.
Mr. Mullins is President of the Sergeants Benevolent Association of the NYPD.