December 19, 2014 | 7:56pm 

 

EDITORIAL

Will politicians heed Cardinal Dolan’s words?

By Patrick J. Lynch

Photo: Shutterstock

It was heartening to read Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s acknowledgment of the anger and frustration that New York City police officers feel towards our city’s leaders, and I think that his call for all parties to “tune down the volume and speak calmly” is a reasonable one.

But it will be supremely difficult for police officers to do so while the mayor continues to dismiss their sentiments as “histrionics” and their recent expression of them as a “stunt.”

As His Eminence correctly noted, the outrage that police officers feel is partially a response to the “intemperate stereotyping” of police officers as abusive and racist.

But what is even more distressing is the way in which that stereotype has been fostered and reinforced, not only by the pronouncements that have flowed from City Hall over the past two weeks, but by the policies our leaders have advanced throughout this entire year.

For months, the City Council has produced a steady stream of proposals that aim to saddle police officers with additional scrutiny and legal perils in order to correct for decades of failed policing policy that they had no hand in creating.

In fact, we had warned for years about the divisive impact of stop-question-and-frisk quotas and other numbers-driven policing strategies.

But now the council is piling on with even more ill-considered legislation that revolves around the notion that punishing police officers is the only path to restoring the community’s trust.

And this mindset among our elected officials has helped fan the flames of outrage in the wake of the tragic incidents in Staten Island, Ferguson and elsewhere.

Like many of their counterparts across the country, New York City police officers are being scapegoated for centuries of racial issues — issues that extend far beyond the realm of law enforcement — despite the abundant evidence of their extraordinary achievements in reducing crime in all communities and protecting the lives and property of New Yorkers of all races.

They have continued to protect the rights of peaceful demonstrators even as the crowds chanted that they want “dead cops.” They have continued to demonstrate remarkable restraint even after assaults on several of their colleagues.

But when their own frustration finally boiled over, they were accused of a breach of “civility.”

We understand that the emotions and rhetoric must cool in order for our city to move beyond the current turmoil.

But that cannot be accomplished through kind words alone. Police officers will need to see some concrete evidence that their leaders will support them in the difficult and dangerous work they do.

And it is simply unfair to expect them to lower their voices until everybody else does the same.