Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, and their children, Chiara
and Dante, arriving for his inauguration as New York City’s mayor.
(photo: Uli Seit/NYT)
28 December 14
ill de Blasio came to the office of New York City Mayor with an agenda for reform of the New York City Police Department. He is quickly finding out why his predecessors have had so much difficulty accomplishing the very same thing.
The NYPD is the nation’s largest police department. It is also one of the most corrupt, violent and entrenched. The NYPD is also very savvy in the political ways of “The Big Apple.”
When NYPD officers turn their backs to de Blasio, one of their objectives is to get him off their backs. This was planned before the killings of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. As early as December 12th, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) was promoting a de Blasio shunning to its members, with the admonishment “Don’t Let Them Insult Your Sacrifice!” referring to Mayor de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
De Blasio has been very open about his desire for reform within the NYPD, and the police have been just as open about their determination that it will never happen.
The NYPD and the PBA, on behalf of the officers, paint this as an officer safety issue. “City officials who want reform cost cops their lives.” Not racist murders of unarmed New Yorkers – that of course never creates animosity toward the police. But it does.
In fact, nothing puts the lives of America’s police officers in greater jeopardy faster than racially motivated, unjustified killings. If Eric Garner had not been needlessly killed, where would we be today? Would officers Liu and Ramos still be alive?
There is an apparent perception on the part of the NYPD rank and file and their union representatives that attempts at reform are somehow bad for the department and the safety of the officers. In fact transparency, accountability, the right training, and attracting better educated personnel are the very things that would make officers and the public they serve more safe.
What is really behind the well planned attacks on de Blasio and the long standing resistance to change within the department is a desire on the part of the NYPD old guard to maintain their power structure.
The well choreographed insult to de Blasio at the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos was not only an insult to the mayor, but to the dignity of the people of the city of New York.
At a time when unity is important to the police, the community, and the city fathers, the NYPD and the PBA have chosen cheap-shot, self-serving politics as the legacy of the two fallen officers, amounting to yet another tragedy.
No good is served by police officers dying. A great deal of good will result from the death of the NYPD old-guard power structure.
To accomplish that, de Blasio will be tested.
Marc Ash was formerly the founder and Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.