New York Daily News

August 2, 2014


 

Editorial: Policing the facts

Cop unions must stick to the evidence

Susan Watts/New York Daily News
Lynch and Mullins need to keep their rhetoric measured.

Right after he got through urging the city not to leap to conclusions about the officer or officers whose force caused the death of Eric Garner, the police union boss was quick to leap to one of his own:

“It was not a chokehold, and we will get use-of-force experts to say that,” said Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch of the actions of Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

Is that so? It was Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, no casual cop accuser, who, after viewing the video in the wake of Garner’s death, said “this would appear to have been a chokehold.”

Lynch has also deemed himself wiser, his judgments more definitive, than those of the city’s medical examiner, whose Friday ruling identified “compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police” as the causes of Garner’s death.

Does Lynch have evidence that this ruling, the result of a careful forensic study of Garner’s body, was, as he said, “political” — a serious slur against the professionalism of a city official?

If so, out with it.

All should respect the PBA’s legitimate, time-honored responsibility to vigorously defend its members and underline the legal presumption of innocence that cops, like all New Yorkers, rightly enjoy. Indispensably, the union reminds the city of the extraordinary honor and professionalism of its police officers at a time when some are eager to believe the worst about them.

But a healthy respect for the role of a union advocate is not license to let the type of instant revisionism and indiscriminate mudslinging in which Lynch is trafficking go unchecked.

Indeed, in the union boss’ supposed attempt to correct what he claims is a race-baiting rush to convict cops in the court of public opinion, Lynch is dealing in a dangerous brand of divisiveness himself.

Also in need of an attitude adjustment: the suggestion by the Sergeants Benevolent Association that just maybe some members of the NYPD would consider slow-walking their on-the-job responsibilities.

“Going forward, our members of the NYPD, we want you to do your job, follow the rule book, the way it’s written, and if there’s a delay in getting to the next place, so be it,” said Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins.

With all due respect — and much respect is due — no. Sergeants, detectives and rank-and-file cops must continue to do their jobs, however the disciplinary and other potential investigations into the behavior of the officers in the Garner case play out.

Follow the evidence and the law. Wait for the Staten Island district attorney and other investigators to marshal their evidence and present it.

How hard is that?