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by Peter Moskos

December 11, 2009

Good (but not for tourism)

Here's to Sgt Kelly and his good Times Square shooting!

The man was carrying a card that said: "I feel sorry for a cop if he think I’m getting into his paddy wagon.”


Anonymous said...

They should charge the owner of the submachine gun as an accomplice for not minding his stuff better.

Anonymous said...

The account at the article does not mention the undercover police officer showing his badge. I wonder if Martinez thought he was shooting a policeman or defending himself from an armed robber.

m.a.d. said...

Hey PCM, I love your commenters, I really do. They go to great lengths to give the benefit of the doubt to gun-toting criminals who try to kill Cops.

"Sergeant Newsom asked for the vendors’ tax stamp, something the two men would need to sell merchandise on the street legally." Only a Cop would ask a street vendor in Manhattan for their tax stamp, and these perps knew who was talking to them.

That's why he ran, because he had no tax stamp, was selling things illegally on the street, was carrying an illegal firearm, was probably scamming tourists and knew he was getting locked up. But yet, the most important thing some people want to know is if the Sgt had his shield out.

Trust me, 99.9% of the time the perps know who the plainclothes Cops are, even before other Cops do.

Anonymous said...

If that's true then put on a blasted uniform. A blue one with a hat and a badge (a real one, not a fake) pinned to the shirt. That way no one has to get Sean Belled or Jonathan Ayersed.

What does the other guy who ran say that the plainclothes (and perhaps badgeless) officer said to them? I didn't catch that part in the article. Trust, but verify.

m.a.d. said...

I can't comment on the Ayers shooting, don't know all the facts; but on the Bell shooting, I know quite a bit. I have 2 friends who were on the team that nite, one of them was charged and acquitted at trial.

The media and thug-lovers like to believe Sean Bell was an innocent bystander, his promising baseball career and rapping fame cut short by evil killer Cops.

The sad truth is Mr. Bell was a drug dealer with past weapon and drug convictions (who hung out with other drug dealers with gun convictions) out partying in a known drug/prostitution location hours before his wedding to his baby's momma. When he saw a Cop approaching his car WITH HIS SHIELD OUT he decided to try and run the Cop over and flee. The only problem was that he was highly intoxicated, and smashed into 2 cars, one of them a Police van full of Cops.

As far as the comment of all Cops working in uniform all the time, I find it difficult to even respond to such a stupid statement. Having spent 1/3 of my career in plainclothes/undercover units, your statement is both impractical, naive and belies your bias against Police and in favor of criminals.

Anonymous said...

It should be noted that sometimes regular citizens say that NYPD Officers say a different thing than what the officers report having said. Here is an example of this from yesterday's newspaper:


Anonymous said...


Even if this were true, shields are good for face to face interactions, but not good for carjacking situations.

You know what is good for identification when you want to pull a suspect out of his car at gunpoint?

A uniform. A blue one with a hat and a badge (a real one, not a fake) pinned to the shirt.

The reason is that a car stop forces the suspect to make a split second decision for his own safety. The uniform helps him make it correctly in this sudden, high consequence situation. There simply isn't time to scrutinize a badge while undergoing something that is, by all outward appearances at least, a carjacking. This is so obvious I feel weird explaining it, but hopefully you can understand now.

PCM said...

m.a.d. makes some very good points.

I've said before that I think plain-clothed cops are vastly overused and the source of too many tragic mistakes.

If the job can be done by a cop in uniform, it should be done by a cop in uniform. And if it can't be done in uniform, we need to ask long and hard if it needs to be done.

For instance, some things, like copyright enforcement, I don't think should be done at all by the NYPD (or at least show be lowest possible priority).

If Louis Vuitton is so worried about knock-off bags, let him hire a private dick. Selling bootleg CDs? If that's the only crime, who cares? Not me. It baffles me why we arrest poor working New Yorkers in the name of laws designed to profit rich non-New Yorkers. (and those vendors, if you're nice to them, can be great sources of information. Who better knows the shady dealings of the street than guys selling bags of contraband?)

But this is something else. These guys were not hard working vendors. We have a word for men with guns who surround tourists and force them to "buy" "signed" CDs: armed robbers.

A uniformed officer is a great deterrence. And often that is good enough. But other times you need a cop out of uniform.

SOmetimes you need to catch the S.O.B.! And that's what Sgt Kelly was doing. The criminal wanted to die before going to jail. He got his wish. And Sgt Kelly is lucky to be alive.

So is our tourism industry. A criminal getting killed in Times Square is a wacky story. A cop getting killed in Times Square changes vacation plans.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone has a problem with Sgt. Kelly questioning and arresting this person. However, he needs to put a uniform on. That way there will be less chance that a sub-machine gun will be whipped out over a misunderstanding (which may or may not be what happened here).

PCM said...

Hey m.a.d., have you considered that perhaps the perp was actually an American revolutionary hero?

Think of it. He was keeping the people safe from colonial oppressors! Because what do colonial oppressors do? They enforce unjust tax stamp laws.

I mean, it happened in New York just yesterday in 1765. Perhaps this hero thought the officer was a British colonialist oppressor?

If you don't fight now, next thing you know they'll be quartering soldiers in your house in time of peace (and in in time of war but in a manner not prescribed by law).

Liberty or death, you know!

(Well, it's no crazier than some of the other ideas presented.)

Rob Carlson said...

I couldn't find any more details about this scam they were running. Is it really just as simple as they describe in the article? Who would fall for something like that? And why?

PCM said...

I don't think it's a matter of "falling" for anything as deciding, in the heat of the moment, that $10 is a small price to pay to get a group of threatening guys to leave you in peace. It's extortion bordering on robbery wrapped in a thin disguise of selling your CDs.

In 1988, in my first visit to New York, I lost $20 at three card monty. Those were the days! I thought they might let me win once to get me to lose more. Wrong.

I feel like I should dress up like a tourist and see how the city changes. I mean, sometimes I see tourists than look, just, so, well, touristy. So touristy that even I want to scam them! But then all I end up doing is giving them directions and being nice to them.

Anonymous said...


How do these tourists appear "touristy"?

From Canada

PCM said...

Clothes with color (jackets in particular--New Yorkers seem to dress in nothing back black and gray). Backpacks. A certain clean-cut look for Americans. A "euro" look for European guys.

Also foreign tourist families often have a shockingly similar genetic appearances. We've got much more diverse genetic stock here in NYC.

But nothing screams tourist (or undercover cop if you're lingering by a turnstile) more than fanny pack!

In behavior, tourists walk slower, take up more sidewalk, stop where they're not supposed to (like at the top and bottom of subway stairs), and wait for a walk sign to cross the street.

Of course many tourists may not look like tourists, but so many are easy to pick out of a crowd. And if I were looking to pull scams, I would pick them out.

Interestingly, the things that many people think marks them as tourist--staring at a map or speaking a foreign tongue--do not. We locals do that, too!