You would think grown men and women -- especially those considered so mentally and physically fit as to be trusted with the task of protecting lives -- could take a little criticism.
I'm talking about the New York City Police Department. Since the senseless slaying of two NYPD officers in Brooklyn, the entire police department has unleashed a hissy-fit against the mayor, Bill de Blasio.
It began at a press conference after the killings, when cops literally turned their backs on the mayor as he entered; they did so again at the funeral of one of the officers, this time amidst a sign that read, "Dump de Blasio." The head of the police union, Patrick Lynch, went so far as to say there was "blood on the hands" of de Blasio, and a former-cop-turned-blogger released a statement, supposedly written by current cops, declaring: "We no longer have confidence in Mayor de Blasio, nor in his ability to lead New York City and promote the values that both the NYPD and the good law abiding citizens of the city hold dear."
Admittedly, de Blasio is not the warm, cuddly figure that Michael Bloomberg was when it comes to the NYPD. The de Blasio campaign focused largely on reforming the police department's stop-and-frisk policy, and he called for the creation of an inspector general and the end to racial profiling. More recently, cops were very upset when de Blasio said he had told his son, Dante, to "take special care" when dealing with the police.
But to anyone who has paid attention, that criticism was a long time coming. The NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy grew so out of control -- 500,000 stops in 2012; 50 percent of which involved blacks (overall, the city is 18 percent black); 88 percent of whom were completely innocent -- that a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional. The so-called "anti-cop campaign" earned de Blasio 73 percent of New Yorkers' votes. No matter what you think about criminal justice or law enforcement tactics, the mandate could not have been clearer. A mayor's job is to carry out his promises to voters -- and, in this case, to follow orders from a federal court -- not write a blank check for cops.
The criticism leveled against the NYPD is not unlike criticism leveled against all levels of our government, by citizens and representatives from all corners of the country, day in and day out since the day free speech has been protected. Are Republicans in Congress inciting violence when they criticize President Obama? Are they out of place? Have they turned their backs on Americans?
No, they're doing their job, and carrying out the demands of democracy. Just because cops do important work does not mean they should be immune from criticism. The NYPD is asking for an unprecedented level of immunity that, if granted to every public servant who did important work, would render our democracy nonviable.
The reaction from the NYPD is not only disrespectful, illogical, and immature, but also borderline libelous and damaging to the well-being of the city. It's far too convenient for cops to make outlandish claims against Mr. de Blasio, suggesting he is responsible for the murder of two cops, just as the NYPD is coming under legitimate criticism from courts, legislators, executives, and New Yorkers at-large.
Instead of turning its back on the mayor and calling "foul," maybe the NYPD should grow up, stare de Blasio and the rest of the city in the face and answer the criticism. That would be nice for a change.