New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chief of Police William Bratton should do the one thing they would never dare do to fix the attitude of their police force. They should fire a thousand cops.
In the midst of their hissy fit over the mayor's lack of adoration for the men and women in blue, the cops are refusing to enforce the law. Arrests in New York City are down 66 percent and citations for petty offenses and traffic violations are down 94 percent from the same week a year ago.
In short, the reaction of the New York cops to being told they sometimes do a bad job is to do the job worse.
De Blasio's sin is failing to fully back the police who killed Eric Garner, an unarmed black man selling cigarettes on a street corner. He had the effrontery to suggest that the people peacefully demonstrating against killing an unarmed man committing a minor crime might have a point. He even said he had to train his own mixed-race son how to deal with police officers so he wouldn't get killed. He knows his city and his cops.
Even before the assassination of two officers in their car, the police circulated a self-righteous petition saying de Blasio has not given cops the "respect they deserve," and disinviting the mayor from future police funerals. It says in part that the mayor's "attendance at the funeral of a fallen New York City police officer is an insult to that officer's memory and sacrifice."
The mayor got off wrong with the cops by campaigning for office against the unconstitutional "stop and frisk" policy that had the police bracing an inordinate number of young, black, poor and Latino men randomly on the street. Then came the Eric Garner mess.
Now some police officers actually blame de Blasio for creating an anti-police atmosphere in which two officers were randomly assassinated. At least three times now, New York police officers in uniform have engaged in a political demonstration by turning their backs on the mayor; once in person and twice at the funerals of fellow officers. Chief Bratton, revered as the cop who has turned around policing in America, weakly said it was "inappropriate." Since when is it merely "inappropriate" to conduct politics in uniform?
The people who carry guns and wear uniforms in the name of public service have to respect and obey civilians and civilian authority or else they are an occupying army. And that's what everyone demonstrating in the streets of America is complaining about. Too often, the cops act like an occupying army.
Cops demand reverence and special treatment because they claim they "lay their lives on the line" every day protecting the public. They do not. Most police work, like any other job, is routine and boring. No doubt, police officers encounter terrible and dangerous situations that most of us never do, but they aren't laying their lives on the line every day.
And in some places in America, the cops are the biggest danger innocent civilians face.
Several dozen police officers are killed on the job every year. It's true and it's terrible. But the most deadly profession in America is being a lumberjack. More fishermen, aircraft pilots and roofers die on the job every year than cops. Police work is not even among the top ten most dangerous professions.
As a journalist, I've seen cops on the job for 35 years. I've seen them do great and brave things. I've also seen them being mean, arrogant and stupid. I've seen cops in Boston beat up demonstrators. I saw the Los Angeles police abandon their city in a riot to prove how necessary they are. I've seen cops bully black kids and beat up reporters. More than once I've had a cop say to me, "I don't care what the law says."
Police officers do not "deserve" respect. Like anyone else in this world, they have to earn it. What a lot of cops don't understand is that they owe respect... to the citizens they are sworn to protect, and to the civilian leaders they work for.
I'd like to see Bill de Blasio and Chief Bratton walk down a row of New York cops refusing to do their job and poke them in the chest saying, "Yo .. turn in your badge; You, you're a disgrace. Get out." Then the cops would have every right to turn their backs on the mayor. And get the hell out of the station house.