This is a tale of two police departments, both unhappy with their bosses in city government.
First is the New York Police Department (NYPD). Back in January, the NYPD was in an uproar over a perceived lack of support from Mayor Bill de Blasio, following the tragic (and, fortunately, pretty unusual) murder of two police officers.
NYPD cops’ protest took two primary forms: turning their backs to the mayor at public events and engaging in a “work stoppage” during which they made arrests and gave tickets “only when they [had] to.” So New York cops still went after murderers, for instance, but people parked in the wrong space or caught drunk in public were given a pass.
Happily, life in New York proceeded pretty much as usual. Arrests declined by more than 50 percent and tickets were down by almost 90 percent, but there was no stoppage-induced crime wave. Sure, delivery drivers were getting fewer tickets when they double parked—but that’s probably a good thing for small businesses and the economy.
So that’s what the NYPD did. Was it the most effective protest? Maybe not, but it had the merit of improving police-community relations and also not getting people killed.
Then there’s the Baltimore PD.
Like the NYPD, Baltimore police felt their leadership wasn’t “standing up for them,” and they decided to protest with a work stoppage.
Only the BPD didn’t stop ticketing people for unimportant, nonviolent violations that maybe shouldn’t be illegal anyway. Instead, as former Baltimore police commissioner Anthony W. Batts said yesterday night, Baltimore cops deliberately let the murder rate spike.
If Batts’ allegation is true, this is an appalling revelation. No matter what disagreements a community and its police department have over police tactics, misconduct, and accountability, intentionally letting more people get killed is not an acceptable police protest model. Full stop.
So far, the BPD has not responded to Batts’ comments. It should. These are grave charges, and the families of Baltimore’s murder victims deserve to know the truth.