Saturday, December 27, 2014

Surrender Dorothy

I have such mixed feelings about the need we have for a police force and the way we police ourselves in a supposedly free society. I have had a few friends who were in the police force in Detroit. Sad to say, all three left disillusioned and deeply disturbed. I have a very good friend who I admire who is presently a career cop in The Netherlands. He rose up through the ranks and is now in charge of an arbitration unit. He sees his role as keeping people out of jail and resolving conflicts with out criminalising the accused. It is virtually impossible to imagine a society that could exist with out a police force. But who is attracted to the profession and why? What is the criteria? In many cases there is a very fine line between a cop and a criminal. 
New York City has had a long, troubled and violently corrupt history of law enforcement. You could go back to 1857, when the force was so corrupt that the New York State Government had to step in and disband the Municipal Force and create an alternative Metropolitan Police Force. The Municipal Force was loyal to the corrupt Mayor, Fernando Wood who was accused of selling city government positions for $50,000 apiece. When the Metro Police Force tried to enforce an arrest warrant against Wood, a battle royal erupted between the two forces and the State Militia had to come in and intervene. The two forces existed for months and interfered with each other. When a Metro Cop arrested someone, Municipal Cops often would appear and let the criminal go free, especially if the criminal was in their "club".
In 1992, Rudy Giuliani was the presumed Republican Mayoral candidate opposing David Dinkins, New York's first black mayor. Giuliani was the prosecutor who had made a name for himself prosecuting the Mafia. He was a Law and Order candidate in an era in which the City was deeply divided economically and racially. He tried to portray himself as the New Sheriff in town who was going to clean up New York. He used his influence with the police to destroy Dinkins. Dinkins was trying to do the same thing that present day New York Mayor, Bill De Blasio is trying to do. Dinkins proposed to create an independent civilian agency to monitor police misconduct. Giuliani saw his opportunity. He worked with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the Police Union to organise a "rally" at City Hall. They succeeded in getting a crowd of 10,000 protestors and whipped them into an emotional frenzy with his rhetoric. They accused the Mayor of not supporting them by among other things, not giving them semi automatic weapons.

"He never supports us on anything," said Officer Tara Fanning of the Midtown South Precinct, echoing the view of many in the crowd. "A cop shoots someone with a gun who's a drug dealer, and he goes and visits the family."
Mayor Dinkins, who was not at City Hall during the demonstration, denounced the protest as "bordering on hooliganism" and said he held the P.B.A. president, Phil Caruso, responsible for what happened. He accused Mr. Caruso of inciting his members' passions and suggested the union leader was motivated in part by contract negotiations.
Fast forward to the present, The banner in the illustration above few over Manhattan yesterday morning. Nobody will admit exactly who paid for it. Giuliani is back on FOX news doubling up his racist rhetoric and leading the pack demanding that De Blasio resign, because he doesn't support the cops and coincidentally, it's contract negotiation time again in New York. I am cynical enough to say that this round of hate directed at de Blasio isn't about the killings of two police officers. It's pure politics, intended to soften up the mayor and slam progressive policies. Leverage. After all, they're in the middle of contract negotiations right now, so it's to the union's benefit to put de Blasio in as vulnerable a position as possible in order to keep him from instituting policy and wage decisions they don't like. I know that this issue has many sides and nuances, but the loudest voices aren't the protestors of police violence. It's those with the billy clubs and the bully pulpit of conservative media who see this as a divisive issue to be exploited. 
If the NYPD runs a slow-motion coup against the freely elected mayor of New York, then it is running a slow-motion coup against all the people of New York. There is no exemption from this fundamental truth about the way this country and its system is supposed to work.
It's dangerous that we're losing sight of the basic notion that these people work for us, not the other way around. But we're also surrendering to the notion that we get by in America (or fail to) at the whim of Wall Street and corporate chieftains -- the misnamed "job creators" -- rather than the other way around. The rich don't like regulation, don't like taxation, and don't want us questioning those preferences. Generally, we don't. Remember who Rudy Giuliani really is, his history, his unleashed police force sodomising
Abner Louima with a toilet plunger in a precinct basement howling "It's Giuliani Time!"
In each case, we fearfully defer to the powerful because we think the powerful have the power of life and death over us. And the powerful take it as their due.

1 comment:

Ol'Buzzard said...

I have worked with police departments as a volunteer diver and was in military police for a couple of years where we worked with the local cops.

One thing obvious is that people who go into police work in
America are not the brightest and best and most all have a self-image problem they are disguising by carrying a gun.

Give a small minded insecure man power (police status) and you can count that he will become a bully and overreact.
the Ol'Buzzard