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Wed Dec 31, 2014, 07:43 PM

Matt Taibbi: The NYPD's 'Work Stoppage' Is Surreal

The NYPD's 'Work Stoppage' Is Surreal

In an alternate universe, the New York Police might have just solved the national community-policing controversy.

.........

The thing is, there are really two things going on here. One is an ongoing bitter argument about race and blame that won't be resolved in this country anytime soon, if ever. Dig a millimeter under the surface of the Garner case, Ferguson, the Liu-Ramos murders, and you'll find vicious race-soaked debates about who's to blame for urban poverty, black crime, police violence, immigration, overloaded prisons and a dozen other nightmare issues.

But the other thing is a highly specific debate over a very resolvable controversy not about police as people, but about how police are deployed. Most people, and police most of all, agree that the best use of police officers is police work. They shouldn't be collecting backdoor taxes because politicians are too cowardly to raise them, and they shouldn't be pre-emptively busting people in poor neighborhoods because voters don't have the patience to figure out some other way to deal with our dying cities.

This police protest, ironically, could have shined a light on all of that. Instead, it's just more fodder for our ongoing hate-a-thon. Happy New Year, America.


.....................

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-nypds-work-stoppage-is-surreal-20141231#ixzz3NWPwEeiH
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Reply Matt Taibbi: The NYPD's 'Work Stoppage' Is Surreal (Original post)
kpete Dec 2014 OP
bluestateguy Dec 2014 #1
branford Dec 2014 #3
rjsquirrel Jan 2015 #8
branford Jan 2015 #9
rjsquirrel Jan 2015 #10
branford Jan 2015 #11
rjsquirrel Jan 2015 #15
branford Jan 2015 #16
Liberal_in_LA Jan 2015 #12
Liberal_in_LA Jan 2015 #13
branford Jan 2015 #14
babylonsister Dec 2014 #2
moondust Jan 2015 #4
AgingAmerican Jan 2015 #5
spanone Jan 2015 #6
phantom power Jan 2015 #7

Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed Dec 31, 2014, 07:51 PM

1. I think the work stoppage is fantastic

A breath of fresh air. No more police harassment for petty stuff: squeegee guys, turnstyle jumpers, pot dealers, pot users, jaywalkers, driving a few miles over the speed limit, open containers, etc. All petty. trifling things that can best be dealt with through polite communication or can otherwise be handled by ordinary citizens themselves. These need not be made into police matters.

The police's job is to focus on the real criminals: murderers, rapists and the Wall Street kingpins who crashed this country's economy.

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Response to bluestateguy (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 31, 2014, 11:46 PM

3. Never forget that the focus on the "petty stuff"

 

is what propelled Giuliani into office, saw him overwhelming elected to a second term, and set the stage for 12 years of Bloomberg.

"Broken windows" policing is widely attributed to the drop in the crime rates of most major cities, was pioneered by Bill Bratton, then police conmissioner for Giuliani, and now serving deBlasio, and is generally very popular with the public, including white middle and upper class liberals that deBlasio very much needs to promulgate police reforms and for his reelection.

The police stoppage of traffic and related matters and petty offenses also provides the city with a very large amount of badly needed revenue. The city will basically remain safe, and police will be guaranteed their salary and staffing levels by contract, but many social programs, particularly in minority neighborhoods, will soon feel the pinch.

The police action has to be viewed in the context of the politics, history and economics of NYC. The union action is actually well considered, targeted and shrewd almost to the point of cruelty. This is definitely not their first rodeo. If you believe that the work slow-down is some irrational, impulsive or ill-considered move, you might be disappointed. There's a reason why deBlasio is intent on publicly playing nice with the NYPD. He knows the underlying issues and reads the polls (and can't wait to finish the binding arbitration on the PBA contract).


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Response to branford (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 1, 2015, 06:12 PM

8. Debatable at best

 

So-called "broken windows" policing has been critically studied and many studies question the conventional (conservative) wisdom that it solved NYC's crime problem. It's folklore as much as fact. Nationslly rates of violent crime fell sharply in most U.S. cities beginning well before Bratton and Mayor 9/11 tried to take credit for it. Demographic explanations are much more powerfully measurable.

So it's mostly bullshit that arresting people for petty shit has any relation to violent crime rates.

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Response to rjsquirrel (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 1, 2015, 06:41 PM

9. The relevant point is that "broken windows" policing

 

was and is perceived by the general public to have reduced crime, and that is, without a doubt, one of the primary reasons why deBlasio chose Bill Bratton, Giuliani's former commissioner, as his own police commissioner.

The debate is not whether "broken windows" actually was responsible for the large drop in crime rates, but rather whether people believe it was responsible and therefore support the policy.

There is also the issue that enforcement of petty crime statutes is often supported because it's a quality of life issue, particularly to many middle and upper class whites, including a great many liberals. People in NYC definitely noticed when vagrants were no longer seen as often on the streets, gentrification intensified in areas like Time Square, loud music and other annoyances virtually disappeared on the subways, no one bothered you any longer at the ATM, etc. "Broken windows" may not have truly impacted murder and rape rates, and it may have had a disproportionate impact in poor neighborhoods, but that doesn't mean it wasn't very noticeable and positively received in areas where people voted in large numbers and donated money and time to politicians. There's a reason why Giuliani was so overwhelming reelected to his second term. To a significant part of the NYC public, life just felt safer and more secure.

Don't confuse an academic discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of certain policing policies with hardcore local politics, economics (both revenue from citations and increased economic activity derived from security) and human perception. The police unions definitely understand this, deBlasio actions and statement demonstrate that he certainly believes it, and many polls support it. To deny this reality would be foolish when ascertaining the best strategy to enact police reform.

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Response to branford (Reply #9)

Thu Jan 1, 2015, 06:51 PM

10. I'm not confusing anything

 

I'm a social scientist.

When you base policy on what people believe - especially when that belief is exaggerated at best, nonsense at worst-- you're pandering not governing.

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Response to rjsquirrel (Reply #10)

Thu Jan 1, 2015, 07:11 PM

11. Again, I'm not discussing which policing policies are best.

 

I'm discussed raw NYC politics. The purportedly best decisions are often political suicide, and less wise decisions result in public confidence and adulation of the relevant politicians. Compromises need to be made in the real world. For instance, how did the decimation of David Dinkins' political career and subsequent 20 years of conservative rule in NYC advance any liberal policies?

Moreover, perception of safety affects other ancillary matter besides the violent crime rate, particularly increased economic activity. The petty offenses, as I stated earlier, are also a important revenue stream for the City.

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Response to branford (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 2, 2015, 07:50 AM

15. I get it and that's totally cynical

 

If "raw politics" bears no relation to policy facts or historical truth, those politics need changing. We cannot just allow the "broken windows" myth to persist in the public imagination. We must contradict it with data, evidence, and common sense.

Luckily NYPD is running the natural experiment. They aren't enforcing petty broken windows crimes, or so the reports go, at the usual rate. We will see if NYC slips into anarchy, but (I live here) so far so good. After all last year had the lowest murder rate in NYC history, and among the lowest overall violent crime rates (and believe it or not, record low pedestrian fatalities). This city was getting safer for reasons that have VERY little to do with the aggressiveness of the police. Killing Eric Garner for selling loosies on Staten Island did not have any relationship to the decline in murders, logically or statistically.

I don't really understand your point - people "think" broken windows policing "worked," so therefore we have to just concede that since people think that there's no getting around the perception? People used to think the world was flat too. And progress depended then as it does now on disabusing people of the erroneous mythological ideas in their tiny little brains.

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Response to rjsquirrel (Reply #15)

Fri Jan 2, 2015, 11:50 AM

16. Perception matters.

 

I, too, am a lifelong resident and work in NYC.

To deny that public perceptions, and not always facts or social science, strongly influence public policy may be cynical, but it is also realistic. If you buck too many public priorities or beliefs, you will not get (re)elected, and in the case of Democrats, the entirety of a liberal agenda is at risk. For instance, I'm fully aware that crime rates began to drop under David Dinkins. However, people barely noticed with events like the Crown Heights riots, Korean boycott and other issue dominating the media, and history certainly has not treated the Dinkins administration kindly. Dinkins' political missteps first gave us Giuliani in a very tight election, just to see him overwhelming reelected to his second term, and his chosen successor serve another 12 years. I don't believe that battling and challenging every policy that the voting public may favor that is not totally supported by studies is worth another 20 years of conservative rule of the liberal and largest city in the country. Battles have to be strategically chosen and change carefully and slowly implemented or you have exactly what's going on today, polarization and clashes with more conservative, yet popular, interests like the police unions. Mayor deBlasio started with a 70%+ approval rating, and is now below 50. This is not a good sign with only one year in office.

http://www.quinnipiac.edu/news-and-events/quinnipiac-university-poll/new-york-city/release-detail?ReleaseID=2120

http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/new-yorkers-who-like-cops-dont-like-de-blasio/


When I state people "think" "broken windows" policing worked, it was meant to indicate that besides the actual publicized claims in the media directly connecting the policy to lower overall crime rates and economic prosperity, and the significant gentrification of many areas in the 1990's, people definitely noticed the other little things like no one bothering you at the ATM machine, no "squeegee guys" harassing motorists at traffic lights, quieter and cleaner commutes on the subway, etc. There's a reason why these matters are called quality of life crimes. Mayor deBlasio is clearly aware of this perception, or at the very least that Bill Bratton's, a champion of "broken windows" policies, connection to the drop in NYC crime rates early in the Giuliani administration, and continued in LA.

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Response to branford (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 1, 2015, 07:22 PM

12. revenue gotten by overloading black and brown w fines. yeah whites like it

 

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Response to branford (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 1, 2015, 07:31 PM

13. article published yesterday about "broken windows"

 

http://gothamist.com/2014/12/31/nypd_broken_windows.php
This last point—that only the truly "bad" or "chronic" criminals are ensnared by this policy—is demonstrably false. Ask the teenager Michael Greenberg met who was afraid his college aid would be revoked because he was arrested after a woman gave him a MetroCard swipe. Or the young man arrested for having his backpack on a subway seat; or the man who was arrested for sleeping on the train after a 4 a.m. work shift; or the public housing residents who are harassed or thrown in jail while waiting for a pizza.

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Reply #13)

Thu Jan 1, 2015, 09:58 PM

14. As I indicated in detail in my response to the other poster, my point was not to defend

 

the results or effects of "broken windows" policing. Rather, I wanted to point-out the political importance of the policy within the context of NYC politics, economics and perceived quality of life for many voting blocs and political donors. Many policies can be unquestionably bad or questionable, yet supported by and important to a majority of voters. To deny this reality, rather than try to prudently work around it, is just foolish.

As to our other post, I don't think you would disagree that a great many liberal whites, including a significant number who voted for deBlasio, most likely support similar policing policies. An increase in purported quality of life crimes and continued conflict with the NYPD, in addition to decreasing revenue, could spell political disaster for Mayor deBlasio. The NYPD and their supporters know this from experience, and the mayor's obvious statements and actions, no less polling, indicates that he too is acutely aware of the political risks. He doesn't want to be the next David Dinkins, nor should any other liberal in NYC.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed Dec 31, 2014, 11:30 PM

2. K&R~

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Thu Jan 1, 2015, 12:34 AM

4. "backdoor taxes because politicians are too cowardly to raise them"

Also the story in Ferguson and probably a lot of other places.

I wonder how much this place pays in taxes:

Emerson Electric Co. (Leading $25B Global Manufacturing and Technology Company)
8000 West Florissant Avenue, P.O. Box 4100
St. Louis MO 63136

I suppose "burdening" the rich with taxes can be hazardous to your reelection coffers.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Thu Jan 1, 2015, 12:36 AM

5. Fire the whole force

 

Everyone in NYC should turn their backs every time they see a cop

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Thu Jan 1, 2015, 12:50 AM

6. k&r...

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Thu Jan 1, 2015, 04:12 PM

7. Taibbi probably knows this, but of course they didn't use it to shine a light

The last thing our fearless leaders want see is citizens asking uncomfortable questions about what this natural experiment has to say about how we use our police force and whether we should use it differently.

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