New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is “comfortable” with himself. So the city learned during the biggest crisis to hit a New York mayoralty in recent memory. “I’m comfortable with the fact that I’ve always tried to tell the truth and stay true to my values,” de Blasio said in mid January, as police officers across New York City continued a work slowdown that had brought discretionary police activity to a virtual standstill. De Blasio’s breezy self-assurance was revealing but unfortunate, since it was his belief in his own mission as social-justice truth-teller that had pushed the police into revolt in the first place.
William Bratton, New York City police commissioner, has now mobilized the considerable management and disciplinary tools at his disposal to force officers to increase their enforcement activity. But the fault lines that led to the slowdown are still there. Law enforcement in New York may be on the rise for now, but in the long term public safety remains at risk from an activist mayor who sees his base as the anti-police Left.
The New York Police Department slowdown was born of two emotions: fear and anger. And it triggered an outburst of hypocrisy on the part of the political and media elites that was breathtaking to behold.
It began on December 20, 2014, when a thug from Brooklyn assassinated two police officers sitting in their patrol car in a violence-plagued Brooklyn housing project. NYPD cops had been ambushed and assassinated before, but this time felt different, a transit captain observed to me. Those prior assassinations “were carried out by small bands of radicals” who were not operating in a generalized anti-police climate, he said. “Today, the anti-cop atmosphere is at a fever pitch and is fed by elected officials and the media.”
The assassinations of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu was preceded by months of anti-police agitation in New York and nationwide, all dedicated to the absurd proposition that police officers are the biggest threat facing young black men. Riots had twice broken out in Ferguson, Mo.; activists in New York had been allowed by the mayor and police commissioner to shut down major bridges and highways with impunity, to the dismay of the police and vast swaths of the public. Protesters at one Midtown Manhattan march had chanted, “What do we want? Dead cops!” with no word of condemnation from City Hall; at another march commandeering the Brooklyn Bridge, protesters tried to hurl trash cans at officers on the level below them. Two public defenders from the Bronx participated in a rap video extolling cop killings.