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Op-ed: Matter of fact- Scaring up support

By Jay Brown

“Slashed! Dozens of cars left flat in Ridge,” read the headline in a local Brooklyn newspaper after about 40 cars in Bay Ridge had their tires punctured overnight.

This sounds like it is in reference to recent acts of vandalism, but this local article was from Nov. 30, 2011, when the same thing happened, just as it has occurred every few years during my entire life in Southern Brooklyn.

I don’t need to find 30-year-old archived articles of such instances because I remember firsthand waking on a morning in the 1980s to find neighbors out surveying all of the cars parked on our block which had had their windows smashed. I recall the many times throughout the years when similar forms of vandalism occurred.

There are many possible motivations for such destructive acts and throughout the years, law enforcement has gotten to the bottom of almost all of them, discovering who committed them and why, but overwhelmingly, most were orchestrated with some underlying coordination by someone looking to benefit in the aftermath.

Those 2011 tire slashings were organized by a tire shop looking to reap additional business from those suddenly in need of new tires. Similarly, auto glass shops most often are behind car window smashings that have occurred in Southern Brooklyn every few years, for as long as I can remember.

It was also the likely motivation a year ago when stores from Bay Ridge to Bensonhurst took down their signs en masse, as they faced thousands of dollars in fines over some antiquated technicality after the Department of Buildings was flooded with anonymous complaints.

Local sign stores suddenly were beset with additional business from those needing to make their signs compliant. Fortunately, the City Council passed legislation within weeks eliminating the fines and updated the outdated laws causing the problem.

Councilmember Brannan was influential in that swift response last year. There was a problem with the law and the City Council quickly addressed it legislatively. The crime of vandalizing personal property falls under the purview of the NYPD and, no doubt, they are working to solve the case.

Disappointingly, some are using these unsolved crimes, which have affected scores of people, to make political attacks. They are conflating multiple issues, from bike lanes to criminal justice reform, to make wild leaps that vandals are suddenly running wild because of who holds elected office and where they stand on matters completely unrelated to someone slashing tires.

As the NYPD, which has responsibility for following up on the recent vandalism, performs its investigation, some with a political axe to grind are criticizing Councilmember Brannan and Sen. Gounardes simply for being in office when these crimes occurred. I never recall former city councilmembers or state senators, Republicans and Democrats alike, being slammed for the 2011 tire slashings or any of the myriad other occurrences of vandalism over the years.

That’s because they promptly coordinated with local precincts on the response, the same way our current elected officials are doing now. Even though the NYPD does not report to our local legislative representatives, they have always partnered with them to solve and resolve these vandalism sprees, which have occurred during every elected’s tenure.

Crime is statistically low overall, compared to decades past, but that doesn’t mean anyone denies this particular crime took place. Some want you to believe that these acts of vandalism mean crime is as bad as we have ever seen, but that is like pointing to one cold, snowy day during a very mild winter and citing it as proof of it being one of the coldest seasons on record.

Some want you to believe that elected officials oversee law enforcement and when a crime occurs, it means they hate the police, despite the fact that such criticisms of these criminal acts occurring and the perpetrators not being found yet are actually direct attacks on the police.

Some want you to be afraid because they think it will personally benefit their own political fortunes. They don’t think you’re smart enough to comprehend the facts. Their disrespect for your intelligence is downright criminal.

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