What a week.
When James Blake, retired tennis pro, was ignominiously tackled by a wilding NYPD detective and trussed up like a roast while he waited for a ride to Flushing Meadows the other day there was something of an outcry about, oh I don't know, police brutality and excessive use of force. Yet again. NYPD has earned quite a reputation for targeting black and brown men for, shall we say, scrutiny, on the presumption of guilt just because. It's a quality of life issue, right?
At any rate, Blake was trussed up and left sitting there on the sidewalk while a plain clothes detective, who apparently did not identify himself to Blake at any time, went about his business of curbing identity theft or whatever assignment he was on until such time as another officer told him that he had collared the wrong man.
Blake was let go. But he made one unholy stink about what had happened to him, and before you knew it, the Mayor and Police Commissioner of New York City were holding news conferences to say, "Ooops, sorry." Well, sort of.
The problem here is not that the wrong man was targeted and detained. Nor is it even institutional racism (although pretty obviously enters into it.) The problem is that anyone could have this happen to them at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all, and most victims would never receive an apology, even one as tepid as Blake received. They would be treated as if they were criminals of the worst order, and they would be expected to accept this treatment as routine police practice. If they didn't like it, there were procedures they could follow to file a complaint, which more than likely would be ignored, or if not, it would be sent to a sham CRB which would find that the officer acted "within policy," ergo, the complaint would not be sustained.
This happens all the time all over the country. When there is an outcry, as there has been with the James Blake matter, there may be some public contrition or even a monetary payout, but little or nothing will change.
In this case, the public outcry included a scathing editorial in the New York Times which called for the firing of the officer involved and a complete overhaul of NYPD's practices. Oh my.
This led directly to today's statement by the PBA President Patrick Lynch, who never misses an opportunity to whine and kvetch about how misunderstood the brave and true officers of the NYPD are, so leave them alone!!!!!
What a whiny little pissant.
But then, that's what's come to be expected from police officer union heads. They cannot believe there are real problems with policing in this country, one of them being a first option resort to violence.
Speaking of, Albuquerque hosts the umpteenth annual Killer Kop Kompetititon this weekend.
Last year, there was a media firestorm about it. This year, not so much. In fact, I can't find anything online about it. Interesting. Well, helpfully, the NRA has an extended pdf (54 pages) providing all sorts of detail about the excitement soon to engulf the culture of violent policing.
There will be a march and protest at the hotel where the killer kops are staying this Saturday, sponsored and organized by the Peace and Justice Center. I'd like to think there will be a big turnout, but somehow I doubt it.
Once James Boyd's killers were charged and eventually, more than a year later, indicted (and are now out on their own recognizance until the trial next August, yet another year gone by) and once James Boyd's family settled their lawsuit against the city of Albuquerque the public anger level declined noticeably. The Albuquerque Police Department has instituted a number of reforms and has held off shooting suspects quite as often as they once did. Even though Albuquerque still hosts the Killer Kop Kompetition, the likelihood that APD will shoot and kill you has been severely curtailed.
As for those hundreds of other po-po gathering to get their kill on, who knows? The rate of police killings has actually increased this year, despite the fact that violent crime is at an all time low. Police forces all over the country have convinced themselves that the public is conducting a "war on police" -- a war for which there is no evidence at all, inasmuch as the likelihood of a cop being killed by a bad guy is close to nonexistent.
People know that Patrick Lynch has serious personal issues that should be addressed outside his duties.
But then that would be true of many cops, wouldn't it?