Attitudes have certainly changed since the 1970s, when the late Frank Rizzo, then-Philadelphia’s mayor and former top cop, told an Italian diplomat that the way to treat criminals was “scappo il capo,” an Italian phrase translated roughly to “crack their heads.”
But has the pendulum swung so far to the left that we now allow police officers to be humiliated and assaulted before jeering crowds?
Videos posted online last month featured uniformed New York City police officers being doused with buckets of water and pelted with objects by jeering, prancing and laughing young street hoodlums in two separate incidents, one in Harlem and another in Brooklyn. In one video, a man picked up a bucket and threw it at an officer’s head as onlookers watched, laughed and acted up in support.
The officers did not respond to these assaults and simply walked away.
Many are blaming the incidents on the policies and poor leadership of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“Our anti-cop lawmakers have gotten their wish: the NYPD is now frozen,” Patrick J. Lynch, New York’s Police Benevolent Association president said. “It’s not the fault of these police officers. It’s the end result of the torrent of bad policies and anti-police rhetoric that has been streaming out of City Hall and Albany for years now.
“We are approaching the point of no return. Disorder controls the streets, and our elected leaders refuse to allow us to take them back. As police officers, we need to draw a line. In situations like this, we need to take action to protect ourselves and the public. The politicians may not care about the dangerous levels of chaos in our neighborhoods, but police officers and decent New Yorkers should not be forced to suffer.”
Back in June, Mr. Lynch panned Mr, de Blasio’s comments during the Democratic debate. The mayor spoke of discussing how to avoid confrontations with the police with his half-African American son.
“Mayor de Blasio has apparently learned nothing over the past six years about the extremely damaging impact of anti-police rhetoric on both cops and the communities we serve,” Mr. Lynch said on behalf of his police union.
After the officers were doused, Mr. de Blasio put out a weak message stating that the assaults were unacceptable, while a former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, noted that this would not have happened on his watch.
Speaking on “Hannity” on Fox News, Mr. Giuliani blamed the current mayor’s anti-police rhetoric for the brazen assaults. He said the officers did not respond because they knew the mayor would not defend them.
President Trump also weighed in on the assaults. As Dave Boyer reported here on July 26, Mr. Trump condemned the “tragic” cases of people assaulting NYPD police officers, and blamed Mayor de Blasio for allowing citizens to torment cops with impunity.
The NYPD later arrested three people, but they were not charged with assault.
New York Assemblyman Mike LiPetri, Long Island Republican, and Assemblyman Michael Reilly, Staten Island Republican, proposed a new law that would make dousing on-duty cops an E felony, which is punishable by one to four years in prison.
“New York State must send a message that this will not be tolerated,” Mr. LiPetri said. “This time, it’s water. But, what’s next? Gasoline? Acid?”
Mr. Reilly, a former NYPD police officer, added, “This is the direct result of political grandstanding from politicians like Mayor de Blasio who’ve done absolutely nothing to foster police-community relations, and instead spread an inflammatory anti-cop rhetoric just to score a few points.”
There was a time when criminals knew that assaulting or murdering a police officer would bring on an immediate condemnation from politicians, the press and the public. And any violent act against a cop would marshal the ranks of all law enforcement officers into quickly apprehending the offender. But today we see fearless and brazen assaults on cops that are filmed and placed proudly on social media.
Any street hoodlum who is willing to assault an armed police officer will certainly not hesitate to assault an average citizen. These offenders must know that there are quick and severe consequences to their violent and criminal actions.
Dousing police officers with water is yet another tactic in the growing war on cops’ campaign.
The war on cops campaign includes anti-cop public rants, violent protests, nuisance lawsuits, political posturing, unflattering and unfair portrayals in popular culture, and the assassination of police officers.
Allowing the war on cops to negate respect for our police officers can lead to lawlessness and anarchy.
Police officers must know that their political leaders support them. Passing laws that make dousing on-duty police officers a felony is a good start.
• Paul Davis covers crime, espionage and terrorism.