We just returned from a long weekend in New York City – lots of walking, much of it on crowded sidewalks – and almost zero police presence. Usually they’re everywhere, providing the reassurance that someone is watching out for us all, natives and tourists alike. Not this weekend. The NYPD Blues need a closure conversation.
I picked up a copy of New York Magazine while I was there, to read the article on “The Mayor & The Cops” by Chris Smith: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/12/bratton-de-blasio-after-killings.html. It left me with a bit of hope for reconciliation, but today’s headlines report that quite a few Blues again turned their back on the Mayor, despite the Commissioner’s request to leave politics out of the funeral services for the 2 murdered Blues. “Funerals are for grieving,” he said, “not for grievances”.
It’s quite a contest, and calls up memories of the disruptive 1970’s. The Blues are angry that so many people have lost confidence in them, and that some of their policing methods (“stop and frisk”) are being called into question. They were offended that the Mayor told his (black) son to be careful around police, cautioning him to be polite and wary. In the background of all this is an unresolved contract between the police Union and the City.
Closure: Acknowledge the facts – what exactly happened, to whom, by whom, when and where? That’s a big job in this instance, but the inventory of facts and perceptions needs to be recognized by all parties. And maybe made public as well?
Closure: Appreciate the people. Thank you, NYPD Blues, for your service in protecting people. Thank you, Mr. Mayor, for your service in managing this complex city. Thank you, Commissioner Bratton, for being a bridge between two important elements of NYC management.
Closure: Apologize for mistakes and misunderstandings. We’re sorry that Eric Garner was killed by a policeman using an illegal maneuver (chokehold). We’re sorry that a mentally ill man was able to obtain a gun and kill two NYPD Blues. We’re sorry for so many mistakes and misunderstandings. Perhaps we need to spell all of them out and look them over thoroughly to see how to reduce them in 2015.
Closure: Amend broken agreements. Yesterday it was reported that 115 US police were killed in the line of duty in 2014, a marked increase from prior years. There are, unfortunately, no good statistics on the number of civilians killed by police in 2014, or any other year. I hope we can establish an agreement to keep those statistics accurately, up-to-date, and public, in 2015. Openness and honesty about what’s happening will honor the lives – Blue and Non-Blue – lost to mistakes and misunderstandings. It’s time close a difficult chapter in our civic life.