New York Daily News

Apr. 10, 2012


 

Dennis HamillNYPD cops should be treated like heroes, not perps

Stop nitpicking our heroes

 

 

Police officer and 9/11 first responder Alonzo Harris's discussed carcinogens found on his uniform during a press conference on Sunday. Photo by Kevin Hagen for New York Daily News

Anthony Lanzilote for New York Daily News

Detective Kenneth Ayala survived Sheepshead Bay shootout.

I recently addressed 1,000 cops at an NYPD Holy Name Society breakfast in Queens.

I spoke about how a reporter can get emotionally involved when a great cop like Police Officer Peter Figoski gets killed, leaving four daughters without a father on Christmas. I talked about traveling from Pine St. in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, where Figoski was killed, to the suburban street where he lived in West Babylon, L.I.

To the home he worked his butt off for as a Brooklyn street cop for 22 years in the action-packed 75th Precinct.

To his home with four daughters he would not be hugging at the door that night.

Or ever again.

I talked about how when I got home after writing that story, I climbed in my car to take my 12-year-old kid to a baseball practice. How the boy sensed that something was wrong. He asked if I’d covered the story about the murdered cop. I nodded. And then I hugged my son the way Pete Figoski would never again be able to hug his girls.

Sometimes, I said, reporters can’t help taking the work home the way cops do.

Okay, so with seven more cops shot since Figoski was buried, with four more taking their own lives partly due to the pressures of The Job, isn’t it time to stop nickel-and-diming them? C’mon.

How many cops have to be shot before the brass cuts all of them some slack on nonsense like squashing traffic tickets for friends and family and taking away vacation days for losing cases in traffic court?

Hey, I’m all for nailing dirty, corrupt cops. But do we really need Internal Affairs Bureau cops monitoring traffic courts to see if a street cop has failed to cross his t’s and dot his i’s? Or the IAB investigating a young cop six months out of the academy who can’t remember which direction a car was traveling on Flatbush Ave. four months and eight shot cops ago?

This meanspirited madness motivates honest cops to lie on the stand instead of saying they don’t recall. And then in the name of revenue raising, the city has turned an honest cop into a dishonest one.

Marvelous.

“We have to focus on what’s real out there on the street,” says Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. The “NYPD is 7,000 cops short. Causing a huge burden on each police officer, answering more calls than ever. But instead of focusing on protecting our cops, we punish them for clerical errors made while juggling three and four jobs at a time.”

When Pete Figoski’s kids were having their first Easter without a father, four cops were wounded in a shootout with a deranged ex-con in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

As the gun smoke clears, do we really need to further demoralize the overworked, underpaid, understaffed NYPD rank and file?

“We have the same issues and stresses at home everyone else has — marriage, children, financial,” says Lynch. “Add on to it the stresses of wearing the blue uniform.”

And being treated like perps instead of police officers.

As a management policy, it’s not only counter intuitive. It’s nuts. And just plain wrong.

dhamill@nydailynews.com