As a retired uniformed officer for the New York City Department of Correction, who served over 21 years in the most hostile facility on Rikers Island (Housing Detention for Men, better known as HDM) and held the rank of Deputy Warden before retiring, it was refreshing and spiritually uplifting to watch PBA President Patrick Lynch courageously stand up and defend his one member of service: NYPD Offficer Daniel Pantaleo, who a judge recently recommended should be fired for his extreme tactics towards subduing Eric Garner and placing him in custody.
In spite of the judge and the array of advocates who have all joined together to publicly criticize how Officer Pantaleo’s performance on that day, that in no way stopped Patrick Lynch from passionately coming out defending his member, while at the same time defending all his members who are assigned and are expected to keep law and order in this city by publicly explaining that it is an officer’s duty to use force when he is called upon to do so because they do not have the luxury of walking away when a crime is being committed.
Unfortunately for everyone involved, circumstances went bad when Eric Garner refused to be arrested, leaving officers with no choice but to forcibly take him in, which unfortunately resulted in his death. Although every resident in New York City has to ask themselves now is: do we want our police officers walking away from everyone who refuses to be arrested? Because if so, we are asking them to walk away from everyone who is committing a crime, and once they do that, New Yorkers will lose their city very much the same way they have already lost their jails.
Today every single Correction Officer knows that any physical altercation they get into with an inmate can and will lead to departmental and criminal charges which will harmfully result towards loss of their livelihood and even freedom. Therefore, today the police officers of the jail avoid physical altercations at all costs because they have already seen the damaging repercussions that it comes with them due to OATH judges’ prejudicial recommendations and state courts’ unfair guilty verdicts.
Because of the stigma society was able to get away with in labeling correctional staff as the abusers, today the inmate population is far more violent than it has historically ever been, in spite of the considerable downsize in inmates being housed. Thanks to absent union president(s) who are more concerned about their own financial wealth, poor uniform supervision that has no clue on how to respond in emergency situations and coddling administrators who use taxpayers’ money on pizza parties and special-need puppies, incompetent representation who encourage their innocent clients to plead guilty, New York City jails are ran and controlled by the dangerous inmate population because all uniform staff are too afraid to deal with them, not because of what physical harm they may sustain by the inmates when doing so, but are afraid of the administrative & legal repercussions that may soon arrive if they do.
Therefore, I ask all New York City residents to be careful in what you are asking of our first-line protectors to become, because of our critical insinuations about how Eric Garner was handled on that unfortunate day. We depend on the FDNY to run into a fire instead of away from it. My question is: how safe will we all be when all of New York’s Finest decides it would be wiser from now on to hesitate or walk away from arrests, instead of making them?
ERIC H. DERAVIN lll, PhD
Deputy Warden, Retired