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by Peter Moskos

December 29, 2014

Blue Flu

Word on the street is that NYPD summonses are down almost 95% and arrests by two-thirds since officers Ramos and Liu were killed (and the PBA was vocal with their opinion).

Let's see what impact this has on crime. It would be interesting if the answer were zero. But since I believe police matter, I don't think this is good.

But what I don't get -- along with the immoral nature of telling cops not to do their job -- is that the best assurance for police officer safety is low crime. Right now so many police officers (and unions) want crime to go up. Many police would be happy to see the city go to hell just to stick it to liberals in general and De Blasio in particular. I don't like that. More crime means more hurt cops. And I'm not willing to accept that.

All that said, I'm a quit sympathetic to cops actually "following the rules." The public doesn't realize how absurd so many rules are. Pick up a copy of the Patrol Guide ("General Orders" in Baltimore), if you can (it's heavy). Rules are not there for effective policing or crime prevention, but rather to arbitrarily punish cops when the department wants to get you. Rules don't tell police what to do. They're just all the ways you can get in trouble if you piss off the wrong person.

It's not fair to expect and ask cops to violate the rules some of the time (and I'm talking about rules, not laws). I'm for anything that brings together formal and informal rules. So yes, inspect those cars as required. Fill out all the paperwork. Wait for supervising officers to sign God knows what. But for God's sake, answer your calls!


bacchys said...

Your description of the rules police are to follow could also apply to the laws they enforce.

The very day the Baltimore PD announced their new policy on videorecording police in public, a gentleman was threatened with arrest for loitering because he was videorecording police in public.

In Montgomery County, a man who was arrested for videorecording a cop was ultimately charged with obstruction because it's not a crime to videorecord. The cop had to walk roughly 50' to get to him where he sat inside his car, where she argued with him about the legality of videorecording police. Her problem plainly wasn't obstruction. Nonetheless,a police spokesman assured me the video was lying.

campbell said...

But for God's sake, answer your calls!

Right? Honestly, the NYPD seems like they've gone over the top on this one. Yeah, maybe deBlasio is a douche but come on, most mayors are. Lord knows I'm no fan of our current mayor.

Our policy and procedures manual sounds relatively sane and slim compared to BPD

Apropo of nothing, have you read Judge Kopf's blog? Interesting in a "I'm an old lifetime appointed federal judge so I'm going to say whatever the hell I want" kind of way. But seriously, a good read. Two posts in particular I enjoyed.



Anonymous said...

awesome post thanks.funny happy new year 2015

Adrian said...

At what point would this be considered a strike? It is illegal for cops to strike, correct?

Moskos said...

This would not be considered anything close to a strike, which would be illegal. I'm guessing, but it would have to be organized and involve cops not showing up to work.

Adrian said...

So if they show up to work and refuse to actually work, it's not a strike?

Moskos said...

As long as they radio calls get answered, they're doing their job. It's not like they're refusing to work... it's that they're not making discretion arrests or writing citations. And they are stopping at all red lights on the way to calls and observing the speed limit. It's hard, legally (and perhaps even ideally), to argue against any of that.

Anonymous said...

read yr book, and thank you for that, and i think i remember your describing discretionary arrests. how important do you think they are in the present case?

Noumenon said...

I enjoyed the Judge Kopf links.

Adam said...

The New York Times editorial board has weighed in.

"[W]hat New Yorkers expect of the Police Department is simple:
1. Don’t violate the Constitution.
2. Don’t kill unarmed people.
To that we can add:
3. Do your jobs. The police are sworn public servants, and refusing to work violates their oath to serve and protect. Mr. Bratton should hold his commanders and supervisors responsible, and turn this insubordination around."

Mostly fair criticism, but a little too much oversimplification on their part, including buying into the idea that an unarmed person can never pose a deadly threat, and thinking Bratton can just fix the problem by "holding people responsible."

Matt said...

@ Adam. The equivalent response to "Don't kill unarmed people" is "Don't resist arrest". Both are extremely oversimplified and speak to an unexamined perspective on law enforcement and use of force.

Adam said...

I agree.