New York Post
December 5, 2014 | 8:03 PM

 

Editorial

The opposite of respect: Mayor’s empty words on cops

By Pat Lynch

Mayor de Blasio says he has “immense respect” for New York City police officers.

He says he has plans to “improve the relationship between police and the communities they serve.” He says that the “rank-and-file, hard-working members of [the NYPD] understand this strategy.”

The mayor says many things. But over the past year he has demonstrated time and again that, when it comes to conversations about how the men and women of the NYPD keep this city safe, he simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Where was his “immense respect” in July, when he sat quietly through Rev. Al Sharpton’s outrageous comments about “perp walking” police officers?

Where has his “immense respect” been during the steady march of court decisions and legislative actions that have saddled police officers with increasing bureaucratic burdens and legal penalties for simply doing their jobs?

Where has his “immense respect” been as his administration has paid out millions to settle baseless lawsuits that smear the reputations of decent, “hard-working” police officers, rather than fighting them to their conclusion in court?

Whether or not the mayor believes it, the vast majority of New York City police officers were outraged by his comments about the “dangers” his son may face when encountering a police officer.

But it was just one more outrage on an already lengthy list, and we can’t afford to dwell for too long on any particular slur.

We need to move on to new questions, such as: How will the mayor’s “immense respect” manifest itself during the impending federal and departmental investigations into the Garner case?

How will he demonstrate it as he moves forward with his much-touted plans to “bring police and community closer together”?

And, once again, what exactly is he talking about?

His talk of “the police” and “the community” ignores the fact that so many New York City police officers are also residents of this city.

We are both “the police” and “the community,” and we understand that when a law-abiding New Yorker and police officer interact, there needs to be respect and cooperation on both sides.

And in the vast majority of these interactions, that is exactly what occurs.

But that respect and cooperation has been undermined by the mayor’s recent comments and others like them.

Instead of healing the rift, he is once again perpetuating the disrespect and distrust that have made interactions between police officers and civilians unnecessarily contentious and dangerous for both parties.

The longer these attitudes persist, the more likely it is that another encounter will end in tragedy.

If the mayor had any interest in demonstrating true leadership on the issue of police/community relations, he would break ranks with the self-serving agitators who have dominated the discussion so far.

He would not just encourage but insist that the public give police officers not only the respect they have earned, but the support they need to continue to keep this city safe.

But he has shown no such leadership so far, and that makes his claims that police officers “understand” his approach the most far-fetched of all.